a letter to J. D. S.
Dear Mr. Salinger,
you probably wouldn't be particularly dying to read anything like the following, but since you made Holden love the idea of just talking to the author of an appreciated book, I will be bold and write anyway - it's not like you can do much to stop me or just shake your head in disapproval of such an irrational endeavour since this letter is either six years or a lifetime too late.
As embarrassing as this is, Mr. Salinger, the point of writing this escapes me since the recipient is eternally unavailable and the content of the letter in question is thoroughly chaotic, albeit as sincere as can be. After spending yet another several days with the Glass family instead of everything else I should be doing, I am harbouring a vague necessity to tell you something - what exactly, I do not know. Yet, I intend to keep typing until all the peculiar little thoughts I had whilst watching Buddy Glass's belletristic home movie return to me.
I am deeply impressed, Mr. Salinger. It may delight you to know that, in my excitement about your writing, I had decided immediately to dedicate my MA thesis to your protagonists as examples of American existentialism, but I withdrew from this plan in horror after researching secondary literature on your short stories and discovering that critics are oh so stupid. Why are they so stupid, Bessie? To have someone I have never met, driven by scholarly narcissism and normed education, ruin a thing that struck me like thunder in its honesty and accuracy? Nay, Mr. Salinger. No academic paper shall ever be written by me on the subject of the Glasses, since doing the opposite would result in estrangement of newly found - who, in fact? Soulmates? Best case scenario. Role models? Flawed ones, but yes.
It's very funny you should mention people thinking they're "a bunch of insufferably 'superior' little bastards" because even if you shove it in some critics' faces, that they are, in fact, not; some won't listen and bemoan literally this alleged insufferable superiority as the major flaw in character design. In the first decade of the 21st century, mind you, well over fifty years after you've proven them wrong through your story, if only they had read it with an open mind. At least that is my opinion. I am, however, perfectly aware that this opinion is dismissable for various reasons.
I just need to tell you, Mr. Salinger, that I found it refreshing as hell that someone dared to create characters whose troubles lie deeper than the average man's, and chose not to focus on those who modestly hold up a credible level of naivite and false compassion whilst still giving lessons, thus appeasing the common, nervous reader: no, my friend, relax: I am not above your level in any way. No, Mr. Salinger, you dared to create brilliance without a deus ex machina scent, you made Seymour and Buddy and Zooey, who are ideal and restless, nevertheless, and too aware of the snares of self-absorption and narcissism to display any of the two without self-reflexivity. Once upon a time - just hear me out - I made up someone not quite far from Zooey in his properties, for a story of mine, and a lecturer thought I should give him more to worry about - "how about some trouble with a woman?", he suggested. I couldn't comprehend how he could miss the point of this character not having such a problem at that particular point in fictional time, of not dealing with anything that could be easily resolved by me, the writer. I am, unlike you, probably just not as talented a wordsmith to convey someone like that unmistakably.
I am absolutely certain you would object to a comparison of Zooey and this character of mine, and you'd be right - so far, I am just admiring, not quite comprehending what fell into my hands with your stories. Ideally, I will, someday, but for now, let me just thank you, Mr. Salinger, for providing perspective, solace, hope and rest. For yet uncharted reasons, I felt quite at home in that East Seventies appartement, and reassured by the words of wisdom coming from a certain Zachary Michael Glass.