J.D. Salinger Dies: Hermit Crab of American Letters

Author J.D. Salinger's only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, achieved a status that made him cringe. For decades the book was a universal rite of passage for adolescents, the manifesto of disenchanted youth

Evening Standard / Getty

American author J.D. Salinger, who wrote The Catcher in the Rye, died of natural causes at his home in Cornish, N.H., on Jan. 27, 2010. He was 91

Take the austere little paperbacks down from the shelf and you can hold the collected works of J.D. Salinger — one novel, three volumes of stories — in the palm of one hand. Like some of his favorite writers — like Sappho, whom we know only from ancient fragments, or the Japanese poets who crafted 17-syllable haiku — Salinger was an author whose large reputation pivots on very little. The first of his published stories that he thought were good enough to preserve appeared in the New Yorker in 1948. Seventeen years later he placed one last story there and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!