Yesterday was not a perfect day for bananafish. Jerome David Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye and other books, died, on Wednesday at age 91, of natural causes at his home in New Hampshire, according to a family statement provided today. His first story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," was published by The New Yorker in 1948. His last was published 16 years later after he retired to reclusiveness in New Hampshire. His output was small for a writer given so much acclaim: Nine Stories (1953), a collection of a novella and a short story, Franny and Zooey (1961), and a collection of two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963). His last published work, a novella entitled Hapworth 16, 1924, appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965.
Salinger was an evergreen writer whose books are still assigned to high schools. One 16-year-old recently told me she hated Catcher and thought Holden Caulfield a wuss. I said, well, he defined my life as a 17-year-old kid. He also defined a certain writing style for me, as well as the purpose of writing when he had Caulfield say, “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”