J. D. Salinger on the Road
Why would anyone bother J. D. Salinger? He wrote a few good books five decades ago, but nothing since. And what would people have said if they’d seen him? “Hi, Jerry, I read Franny & Zooey” or “What exactly is a bananafish?” It wouldn’t have done any good to ask questions then. J. D. was stone deaf.
It’s anybody’s guess why on earth Joyce Maynard, who lived with Salinger for a while and seemed to be a very pleasant person, decided to tell us that she and Jerry ate frozen peas together while watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show. His daughter, Peggy, has written another tell-all book on J. D.’s life. She reveals that he was seldom around and how distant he was. Blah, blah, whine … Peggy, get over it.
We all have Salinger stories, like the time Orville got locked in Jerry’s garage and couldn’t get the new electronic door to open and was stuck there for hours; while he was waiting to be rescued, he discovered stacks of unpublished stories J. D. had been writing under an assumed name. And that name was …
Well, Orville did get locked in the garage, but he didn’t find any stacks of unpublished stories. Everyone knows that those stacks of unpublished stories are buried in several trunks near a stand of birches in the field across from Whitten Cemetery …
I’m right at the top of Dingleton Hill. A sign at the bottom of the driveway reads Fern Hill. If you come to Cornish and feel the urge to visit J. D.’s home and you need directions, stop by my place. I’ll be glad to tell you where to go.
Franz Douskey has published in The New Yorker, The Nation, Rolling Stone, Down East, and Yankee Magazine, among many others. He has read from his writing at Cronkite Graduate Center at Harvard, the University of Arizona, the New School for Social Research, Donnell Library Center, and Yale University, where he taught creative writing for five years. He is president emeritus of IMPAC University in Punta Gorda, Florida. He produces and co-hosts Once Upon a Bandstand on WQUN, Quinnipiac University.