J.D. Salinger Archive

What Writers Can Learn From Visual Artists About Patterns & Meaning

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Patterns are everywhere and we rely on them to understand ourselves and the world. Theoretical physicists and cosmologists attempt to unlock the mysteries of our existence by searching for patterns. Behavioral scientists, psychologists, psychobiologists, criminologists, sociologist and cognitive scientists seek insight into human nature by studying patterns.

Big Picture, Small Picture: Context for J.D. Salinger’s NINE STORIES

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This blog series, Big Picture, Small Picture, provides a contextual collage for a chosen piece of literature. The information here is culled from newspapers, newsreels, periodicals, and other primary sources from the date of the text’s original publication. “Just a perfect day, problems all left alone, weekenders on our

Out of the Blue and Onto the Page: How Translation Rekindled My Passion for Writing

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When my mother, born in America to Israeli parents, first met my father in Tel Aviv, she said she knew he was right for her because he was an American living in Israel. As a young woman who grew up in transit—constantly being moved around between the two countries—she

What Happens When We Read: The Mind’s Eye and How it Works

Reading is a cognitive experience and written language can elicit in the brain an array of sensory perceptions. A description of an apple pie once made me put the book down so I could bask in its warm smell. But what the brain does most readily is see. It’s

The Summer of Salinger, A Review

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My Salinger Year Joanna Rakoff 272 pages Knopf $25.95 buy: here J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist Thomas Beller 192 Pages Icons Series, New Harvest $20 buy: here   As a boy in Manhattan, Thomas Beller frequented the Museum of Natural History, struggled with his Jewish identity and didn’t apply

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “All Lateral” by Matt Sumell

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When we speak of a story as “voice-driven,” that typically means it’s written in first person and that the narrator has attitude. Instead of quietly striving towards general objectivity, the narrator—à la Holden Caulfield—gives us a unique angle on the world that keeps our eyes fixed to the page.

A Knack for Names

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I once read (though the source is now lost to me) that the names of the characters in a novel do the work of telling the reader what world he’s in. Musicality, characterization, hints at a character’s gender, ethnicity, and social status—all of these are important in a name.

Harper Lee and the Politics of Genius in Today’s Age

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The intensity of the reaction to news of beloved author Harper Lee publishing a sequel to her masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird, is ironic, given the very reasons we thought we’d never see this day come: Lee often proclaimed that her first book had said all she wanted to say,

Say Anything: A Case for Dialogue

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Recently I was reading the prose section of an online literary magazine’s fall issue when I could not overcome a nagging sense that something was lacking. The stories themselves were well-written; the style was cohesive with the magazine’s tone; the narratives were engaging. Yet it somehow felt incomplete. As

Lit GIFs: The Catcher in the Rye

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Meet Holden Caulfield. Holden is not so good at staying in school. He is 0 for 4 as far as schools go. As a general rule, Holden is annoyed by people. Except for Jane Gallagher. He still likes her.