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.
Biographers will not let him rest in peace, however. The reasons for this are complex, but there is something to be said for the argument that a writer who reaches an audience of millions, who makes a grand living at his profession, owes something to those readers. Curiosity