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JD Salinger – ‘a terrific friend’

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” (Holden Caulfied in The Catcher in the Rye)

As I read the news of JD Salinger’s death I remember first reading Catcher in the Rye in my mid teens, in Canada. It was mesmerising. When I came to those lines I’ve quoted, I remember looking up from the page and wishing  JD Salinger were ‘ a terrific friend’ of mine! He was one of those authors , like Lewis, who seems to know your hidden self, who cut through the outer layers, uncovered things, and made you agree or disagree so strongly that you wished he was in the room with you to start a conversation that would change everything. But in a way the conversation that starts when we read some books never really stops, and some authors really do become ‘terrific friends’ even though we don’t know them in the flesh. Holden Caulfield wondered where the ducks went when the pond froze in winter, may the man who imagined that strange compassion in his hero find the real compassion of his Creator as he leaves this frozen world.

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