Um, did anyone see January come and go? I’m sure I saw it stride in through the door wearing glitter and a party hat and dragging a slightly mangled December behind it, then I turn my back for a few seconds and there’s that bloody February standing a little closer than is polite and breathing its humid breath all over me. Apologies. Pile o’ Books and the January social madness don’t work well together!
But today I wanted to acknowledge – like every other book-focussed blog out there – the death of JD Salinger. Salinger was one of those authors I avoided like a reheated kebab until a university course made me read him. I can’t quite remember why I had such an aversion. I think when I was young I saw Splendour in the Grass and thought it was Catcher in the Rye for some reason – clearly knowing nothing about the book, nor that a movie had never been made (c’mon I was like, 9 years old) – and forever associated Holden Caulfield with Warren Beatty. And I don’t really care for Wazza, though I liked that movie where he was a politician who went all ‘street’ to get the black vote. I know this makes no sense, but it’s just one of those things my brain does.
ANYWAY, from that forced reading of Salinger at university I discovered one of my favourite short stories ever. For Esme, With Love and Squalor had a profound effect on me. I felt like a different person after reading it for the first time and I cried about two litres of tears. I re-read it often. ‘Squalor’ is such a beautifully sorrowful word. I really love most of JD’s short stories and I’m not a particular fan of short stories in general. So thanks, Mr Salinger, for Esme. With love and due respect. Vale.