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Love and the Writer (standard:other, 609 words)
Author: DAVID TUMUSIIMEAdded: Jan 14 2009Views/Reads: 1885/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Salinger is 90 and like he often did, with his life choices and writing, got me thinking....

He is not my favourite writer of all time. He is even close to the
league of the Ernest Hemingway's, F. Scott Fitzgerald, those guys who I 
cannot go a month through without at least desultorily reading a page. 
A writer who has written some lines, like Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan 
Illyich that make some scenes indelible that they keep recurring in my 
mind from time to time and I puzzle over them like some people puzzle 
over some passages in their favourite book in the Holy Bible or Quran. 
He is not that kind of writer. 

But he is a writer, for a brief while, I loved passionately. Some mad
months of intoxication when I could not get over the ‘banging' 
stylishness of his solitary novel and read it, mused on the title and 
read it again, totally enthralled. I read his book in adulthood so he 
was no teenage infatuation like his one novel is often defined as a 
teen classic, favoured book of teenagers at an age before they learn 
that you cannot live with your ideals intact as you advance further and 
get entangled with the messy thing called life. 

He became 90 this January 1, and though in December 2008 I had long
planned a quick pleasure jaunt through The Catcher in the Rye, my copy 
remains on my shelf unread almost two years now since our last 
encounter. I still cannot understand how I used to love this author's 
work so much. I have been wondering too about the writers we love, read 
everything they have penned and the interest becomes so much so you 
want to know what they were like in real life. 

I know Mark Twain liked to write with a fountain pen. I know the brand
of cigarettes Fitzgerald used to smoke. Honore Balzac was a coffee 
addict and his manuscripts have the round bases of the cups he used to 
drink his intensely black coffee in. I know things like that about so 
many of the writers I have read and loved and then gone as far as 
trying to own an omnibus edition of their work. I own quite a few of 
those. The first I owned being James Joyce's, capping a dream ending to 
my secondary school education, I bought it the very day I wrote my last 
exam on Kampala road, walking a friend somewhere I have no memory of 

A friend once told me that he did not want to know anything about an
author apart from the work the author deemed worth publishing. He was 
not interested in what is his favourite designer label, is there a mini 
series he looks forward to each season the TV companies unleash the 
latest seasons and he damn well did not want to know what his favourite 
author looks like. I suspect the cringe factor emanated from a fear of 
being let down once he met an author he had idolized and put high up on 
some pedestal. 

Salinger is 90 and there is little chance I will ever meet him. I would
have loved to meet him and even if I do not think The Catcher in the 
Rye is as great a book as I once held it, I still would have liked to 
commend him on excelling in the difficult art of writing catchy titles. 
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters remains up there with some of my 
favourite titles be it a song, movie, painting or short story title. 

Happy birthday, Salinger! You may never read this but for some months a
few years back, you were tops with me! 


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