Sunday, January 31, 2010


HOLDEN CAULFIELD, SENIOR CITIZEN


If you really want to hear about it, here I am, still acting like a teenager, over 70 years old now with no hope of ever retiring, pension forget it, still mouthing the same damn text word for word, following the same old routine page after page in the same depressing scenarios, even though none of those places exist anymore, if they ever did, how the hell should I know, locked in sentences and paragraphs like I am, day in, day out, acting like a self-centered 1950's adolescent in millions of copies of the damn book by now and I'm telling you it's making me sick, I think I've got cancer. Or maybe it's my gall bladder, this terrible diet and lifestyle...

I'm not a teenager anymore, and for once in my life I'd like to act my age, get to bed early, have a decent meal, wear some adult clothes, maybe marry, have kids who aren't disturbed characters in novels like their old man, live out in the country where it's quiet, raise a few vegetables, forget all this. I'm tired. I've grown way out of the stuff in the book, it's been over 50 years now. I'm not self-centered anymore, I'd like to be more like a character in real life, a guy who's responsible, thoughtful of others, maybe a country doctor or organic farmer. But to think that I'll be going on exactly like this for as long as people read this damn book is enough to make me commit suicide, as if I had the option.

I never did much reading myself, my author saw to that, but I was talking to Ishmael not long ago, he's had it up to here too, with Queequeg, Ahab, Starbuck, whales, the sea, every damn thing day after day in libraries all over the world, wants to get his landlegs back, maybe open a bed-and-breakfast in Nantucket, fat chance. Raskolnikov was saying just the other day how he wants to lead a less stressful life, maybe join the clergy, but he's always got to have killed some old woman with an axe, no matter what he might think about it now.

Even though all of us are famous-- Hester, who's been pregnant in another century for I don't know how long; Tristram still living with his crazy family; Oliver still picking pockets in the London smog; Huck still trying to get back upriver; Valjean, all he wants is to return that damn candelabra and shuck the whole sewer scene; so many others--- the libraries are full of us, but what do our true feelings matter, we're just literature.

Fame means nothing to us; how could it, since no one knows who we really are, who we really want to be, what we truly feel after all this time; characters do change; but no one cares, not even our authors, who put all these words in our mouths; they're mostly dead now anyway, or if not they're writing some other characters into this hell; anyway they never really listened while they were writing us, then they just cut us off at the end, like they were god or something.

Just once I'd like to get my monotonous hands on that sneaky-fingered guy who did this to me, created this whole damn thing without putting at least one decent female in here, not even a good meal, or some interesting people, just a bunch of discontents like I used to be, full of aimless angst and all that fifties' shit, over and over again. I've had it up to here.

At least I haven't got it as bad as Anna, though, poor woman, jumping under a train for over a hundred years now, she's a trooper, but I can tell it's getting to her; she'd just love to get her hands on a guy called Tolstoy. Hester offered to switch novels with her, but Anna would rather jump under a train. Huck offered to switch with me too, get away from his old man, see some modern life, such as it is; not that I want to get anywhere near Huck’s old man myself. Anyway Huck's way older than I am, doesn't know a thing about the fifties; besides, he hates history, and the future is just history in reverse.

Well, nice talking to ya but I gotta go, some blankhead just bought a copy, gotta get back to where it's cold as a witch's tit, and that secret slob sneaking his finger up his nose, start all over again from the beginning, word for word for the trillionth time, settin' out to catch whatever the hell is in the rye, and old as I may be, I'm still the only one who can do it right, I guess. One does have a certain responsibility to what they call The Canon.

Don't misunderstand me though, I'm sure as hell not recommending you read the book.

7 comments:

annie said...

I am, as they say, laughing out loud. A wonderful tribute. RIP Salinger; long live Caulfield.

R. Brady said...

Holden lives.

Kay Dennison said...

Indeed he does!!!! Great stuff!!!!!

Iwakura Ken said...

CLASSIC!

Tabor said...

I must read this again as it was sooo long ago. I wonder if the library still has a copy?

ted said...

You've no doubt already seen this, but...

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/bunch_of_phonies_mourn_j_d

R. Brady said...

Ted, thanks for the link; no, I hadn't read that. Fact is, I wrote this many years ago to read at the Kyoto Connection (not sure I ever did read it) and forgot it, just recently found it on an old floppy I managed to open (4/5 of them won't open), and JD just happened to have died, and something clicked in the minor scheme of things, as it so often does...