He Just Wants to Make Us Happy

Salingers Holden Caulfield at 50

I don't think there's a single other book in American literature in which the narrator so badly needs the reader to understand him and cure his solitude, and there's no American book in which the novelist creates the illusion of solidarity between his character and the reader more successfully. In fact, the illusion is so strong that it doesn't feel like illusion at all: Salinger dreamed Holden Caulfield right into our lives, and 50 years on, he still feels right here, red hat on, striding the American blast, needing us more than ever.

Thanks to Julie Wilhelm for conversations in which many of these ideas came to light.
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