Over the last couple of decades, it was hard for a former fan such as me to believe that the goddam old guy still actually existed somewhere in flesh and blood, in a remote corner of his native land. For ages, the great US novelist J D Salinger—who happened to have been present as a soldier at Utah Beach in Normandy on D-Day—had become a recluse, who shunned contacts with the outside world.
Like countless adolescent readers throughout the planet, I was convinced that the teenager Holden Caulfield, hero of The Catcher in the Rye, was indeed my alter-ego. Fortunately, though, by the time I got around to reading this ground-breaking work of fiction, I had already left school, so my parents and former teachers escaped the unpleasant ordeal of enduring an obnoxious Caulfield imitator swaggering around and using coarse American slang. But I'm sure that younger school generations of brooding adolescent fans of Salinger filled in for me amply.
I was particularly fond of Salinger's novellas featuring the weird but wonderful siblings of the Glass family: Seymour, Buddy (the narrator), his sister Boo Boo, the twins Walt and Waker, and the two youngest children Zooey (male) and Franny (female).
Last Wednesday, when the old story-teller finally locked for the last time his secret vault of tales, it might have been a great day for Steve Jobs and his iPad, but it was definitely a bad day for Bananafish.