He died this morning, according to the Washington Post:

Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger has died at age 91 in New Hampshire.

The author’s son, in a statement from the author’s literary representative, says Salinger died of natural causes at his home. He had lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in the small, remote house in Cornish, N.H.

The Catcher in the Rye with its immortal teenage protagonist – the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield – came out in 1951 during the time of anxious, Cold War conformity.

Salinger wrote for adults, but teenagers all over the world identified with the novel’s themes of alienation, innocence and fantasy.

In later years, Salinger became famous for not wanting to be famous, refusing interviews.

He also became famous in part because despite being one of America’s best known authors solely on the strength of one novel, he has refused to publish anything for over forty years (his last published work came out in 1965).

As might be expected, I loved Catcher in the Rye when I was 17, but it comes across as somewhat dated now. Trouble is, I’m not sure whether that’s an indictment of the book, or our culture.

UPDATE: Changed “terribly”to “somewhat” with reference to Catcher being dated. A lot of its language is dated, but in the same way that movies from the 1930s, ’40s, or ’50s can still be watched and enjoyed even with what sound to our ears like oddities of language, Salinger’s novel still merits reading from the standpoint of language, for its historical value among other things. And certainly as commenters have pointed out, teenage angst, though it may be expressed differently, appears in every generation.

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