On this date in American literary history – July 16, 1951, J.D. Salinger's only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published. The book, about a confused teenager disillusioned by the adult world, was an instant hit and is mandatory reading in many high schools. The 31-year-old Salinger had worked on the novel for a decade. His stories had already started appearing in the 1940s, many in the New Yorker. The book took the country by storm, selling out and becoming a Book of the Month Club selection. Fame did not agree with Salinger, who retreated to a hilltop cabin in Cornish, New York, but he continued to publish stories in the New Yorker periodically. He published Franny and Zooey in 1963, based on two combined New Yorker stories. In 1999, journalist Joyce Maynard published a book about her affair with Salinger, which had taken place more than two decades earlier. Notoriously reclusive, Salinger died at his home in New Hampshire on January 27, 2010 at age 91.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include America’s Literary Legends: The Lives & Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. Visit Michael’s website for more information about his books and events www.michaelthomasbarry.com
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