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J.D. Salinger

1919–2010
Novels, novellas, stories
Works on Greatest lists
Greatest Literature

The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

• Franny and Zooey (1961)

Greatest Novels

The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

• Franny and Zooey (1961)

Greatest Novellas

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters (1963)

Seymour: An Introduction (1963)

Greatest Stories

• "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" (1948)

• "For Esmé—With Love and Squalor" (1950)

Related commentaries
The Catcher in the Rye

Few novels divide readers as The Catcher in the Rye does. This may sound like a bizarre thing to say, since J.D. Salinger's novel has been wildly popular since it came out.... more

A Perfect Day for Bananafish

My first exposure to J.D. Salinger's first story left me with a memory of a lengthy convoluted story. But recently when I read it I discovered it is actually quite short—simple even. What gives.... more

J.D. Salinger

THE AUTHOR | WORKS | VIEWS AND QUOTES

On books, writers and writing

1945

I have trouble writing simply and naturally. My mind is stocked with some black neckties, and though I'm throwing them out as fast as I find them, there will always be a few left over. I am a dash man and not a miler, and it is probable that I will never write a novel.

Letter to Esquire

Date unknown

I'm aware that many of my friends will be saddened and shocked, or shock-saddened, over some of the chapters in The Catcher in the Rye. Some of my best friends are children. In fact, all my best friends are children. It's almost unbearable for me to realize that my book will be kept on a shelf out of their reach.

Quoted in The Twentieth Century (1972)

1974

There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. It's peaceful. Still. Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure... I don't necessarily intend to publish posthumously, but I do like to write for myself.... I pay for this kind of attitude. I'm known as a strange, aloof kind of man. But all I'm doing is trying to protect myself and my work.

Interview in New York Times

1978

I'm a fiction writer! It's all fiction. There's absolutely no autobiography in my stories. I can't help these people. If I'd have known this was going to happen, I don't think I would have started writing.... I'm not a teacher or a seer. I'm not a counselor. I, perhaps, pose questions about life in my stories, but I don't pretend to know the answers....

Trying to teach someone to write is like the blind leading the blind. If you are lonely, there are some thearapeutic benefits in writing your way out of it. I would suggest reading a lot of other people. Don't write facts. Blend in your own experiences. Plan your stories carefully. Don't make rash decisions, and don't get too hung up on the critics and all that psychoanalytic madness.

Conversation reported in Salinger (2013)

THE AUTHOR | WORKS | VIEWS AND QUOTES