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Posts Tagged ‘Holden Caulfield’

No Grownups Allowed

March 27, 2014 | by


Photo: Dick Rowan, 1972

There are certain places—mostly playgrounds—that post signs advising visitors that no unaccompanied adults will be admitted without a child escort. Sometimes, these are practical concerns: jungle gyms and ball pits are not made to bear a grownup’s weight. (This is to say nothing of creeps.) But maybe they are also meant to give kids a sense of specialness in a grown-up world.

There should be far more of these signs. In fact, they should be expanded to include “No unaccompanied adults on grounds of preserving their dignity” and “No unaccompanied adults on grounds of Baby Jane–style macabreness.” Signs for both these categories would bar adult entry to petting zoos; most merry-go-rounds, with special dispensation for the kind with brass rings; and any restaurants clearly intended primarily for little girls. (These prohibitions sort of apply to groups of wild teenagers who scare little children, but of course they know exactly what they’re doing and run the world.)  It is not that I don’t understand a need for nostalgia and childlike wonder. But over the weekend—while I was accompanied by young children, may I add—I saw a young French woman texting as she rode the Central Park Carousel, so. Read More »

They Don’t Love You Like I Love You

April 4, 2013 | by

In seventh grade, we read The Catcher in the Rye. One day, Ms. C. handed out xeroxed maps of New York City and asked us to trace Holden Caulfield’s path through New York. We did. “Do you see the pattern?” she kept asking excitedly. “Do you see what it’s all pointing to?” No one did. “He’s heading home! He’s circling around home!” she finally shouted, exasperated. We were collectively underwhelmed. I suspect Holden Caulfield might have been, too.

Maybe our teacher was onto something, though: in a sense, she was urging us to do the same thing Becky Cooper conceived of in her collaborative art project Mapping Manhattan, now collected in a book. A range of New Yorkers—artists, writers, thinkers, kooks—present maps colored (in some cases literally) by their personal experiences. The results are as wide-ranging and fascinating as one might expect. None, that I can see, are leading to the author’s childhood home—but then, if memory serves, I only got a B+ in that class.

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s map.



Salinger Foods, Austen Portraits

June 12, 2012 | by

  • Does this painting portray Jane Austen at thirteen?
  • The Stephen King–universe flowchart.
  • Gertrude Stein: fact and fiction.
  • Regina Spektor likes J.D. Salinger.
  • Holden Caulfield’s cheese sandwich and other literary dishes.


    Document: The Symbolism Survey

    December 5, 2011 | by

    In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? he asked. Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind?

    McAllister had just published his first story, “The Faces Outside,” in both IF magazine and Simon and Schuster’s 1964 roundup of the best science fiction of the year. Confident, if not downright cocky, he thought the surveys could settle a conflict with his English teacher by proving that symbols weren’t lying beneath the texts they read like buried treasure awaiting discovery.

    His project involved substantial labor—this before the Internet, before e-mail—but was not impossible: many authors and their representatives were listed in the Twentieth-Century American Literature series found in the local library. More impressive is that seventy-five writers replied—most of them, in earnest. Sixty-five of those responses survive (McAllister lost ten to “a kleptomaniacal friend”). Answers ranged from the secretarial blow off to a thick packet of single-spaced typescript in reply.

    The pages here feature a number of the surveys in facsimile: Jack Kerouac, Ayn Rand, Ralph Ellison, Ray Bradbury, John Updike, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer. Each responder offers a unique take on the issue itself—symbolism in literature—as well as on handling a sixteen-year-old aspirant approaching writers as masters of their craft.

    Even if he approached them en masse, with a form letter.

    And failed to follow up with a thank-you note.

    Read More »