At Last, A Role Model

Lillian Ross’s remembrance of J.D. Salinger in the February 8th New Yorker makes me think I might have liked the man quite a bit, if I’d known him. (Now is when you will be tempted to notify me of some horrible sexual or other predilection of his. Aside from the fact that this wouldn’t disqualify him for me quite the way you think it might, I would ask that you do so only if you have nothing of your own you’d rather keep secret-glass houses, stones, etc.)

Anyway, while in the midst of ruminating on my family’s near-term future and how best to raise my son, I liked reading Ross quoting Salinger quoting Emerson (” a touchstone” for Salinger, who “often quoted him in letters”):

“A man must have aunts and cousins, must buy carrots and turnips, must have barn and woodshed, must go to the market and to the blacksmith’s shop, must saunter and sleep and be inferior and silly.”

Sounds like a philosophy I could live with.


“After he bought a Maytag washer and dryer, he was tickled that the salesman quoted Ruskin to him-something about where quality counts, price doesn’t. He was sure that the line wasn’t part of the man’s spiel. “God, how I still love private readers,” he wrote. “It’s what we all used to be.”

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