The death of J D Salinger at the end of January led to a sudden outpouring of remembrance and re-evaluation. I myself recalled, wistfully, seeing the great man himself on many occasions in New Hampshire, over three decades ago. I was a young teacher at a college not far from where Salinger had gone into ‘hiding’ in Cornish. He often came into the town where I lived, and would sit in the basement of the library. It was adjacent to my office, and I would see him late at night in that empty reading room. My colleagues and I knew exactly who he was, but we didn’t dare disturb him. Everyone knew that he had no wish to be noticed, so we let him be.