J.D. Salinger

It’s a rare instance that I agree with Boston radio host Howie Carr – and today is one of those instances. His website has a daily poll and he reports the results each weekday. Obviously, the conservative position wins at least 80-20 every time and Carr pretty much is always with that majority. But today was different. The question was “Is ‘Catcher in the Rye’ overrated?”. The numbers were something like 60% “yes”. Carr responded, “No. It can’t be overrated. Don’t judge the book by your high school English teacher, people!” (paraphrased).

He’s absolutely right. Catcher in the Rye is one of the greatest books ever written. Maybe it’s because it’s usually cool to say ‘That’s not cool’ about whatever happens to be really popular – especially if it’s popular for a long time – that drives people to erroneously declare the book overrated. It isn’t. It can’t be.

Personally, this book ranks at the top of my list in a close fight with Animal Farm for the number two spot (All Quiet on the Western Front is my number one). The literary world is far better off with this book than without it.

That’s why it’s so unfortunate to hear that J.D. Salinger has died at 91.