J.D. Salinger (1919-2010) CNN has reported that author J.D. Salinger passed away yesterday at his home in Cornish, N.H. Jerome David Salinger was 91 years old. Salinger wrote numerous short stories and novellas, but it was his sole novel, The Catcher in the Rye, that brought him commercial success, and catapulted him into the realm of literary greatness. This groundbreaking coming-of-age story about the antihero Holden Caufield--a snarky sixteen-year-old prep-school student--has sold several million copies since it was published in 1951. The book continues to spark controversy and remains on the list of most contested or banned books.
Salinger was himself a controversial figure, who became increasingly famous for his efforts to shun the public spotlight. He led a reclusive life, and granted his last interview in 1980. In the summer of 2009, the author made headlines worldwide when he initiated and won a plagarism lawsuit against the Swedish author Fredrik Colting, who wrote a novel featuring a seventy-something Holden Caufield.
The New Yorker has just posted all 13 of Salinger's published short stories, all of which originally appeared in the magazine from 1945-1965.
Howard Zinn (1922-2010) Historian, playright, and impassioned social activist Howard Zinn died yesterday at the age of 87. Professor Zinn wrote more than 20 books, including A People's History of the United States--a landmark bestseller that has prompted readers of all ages to reconsider their understanding of American history. This revisionist account led to a broader reassessment of how narratives of America's past are written and taught to students. Zinn recently published a revised edition of Voices of a People's History of the United States--a companion to A People's History that features primary accounts of events, letters and other documentation which Zinn drew upon in his interpretation. In the book's introduction he observes: "What is common to all of these voices is that they have mostly been shut out of the orthodox histories, the major media, the standard textbooks, the controlled culture ... to create a passive citizenry." Howard Zinn devoted his life to the defense of civil rights and civil liberties.
Louis Auchincloss (1917-2010) The New York Times reports that the National Book Award-nominated and author Louis Auchincloss died on January 26 in New York City. Auchincloss (pronounced AW-kin-kloss) was a critically acclaimed and bestselling chronicler of Manhattan's WASP elite throughout his half-century career. In more than 60 works of fiction, biography, and essays, he penetrated the inherent complexities and contradictions of his beloved city's most privileged class. A distant relative of Edith Wharton, Auchincloss was part and parcel of the retreating world of which he wrote so eloquently and often. His stories piqued the interest of middle-class readers who enjoyed literary access into an otherwise closed world governed by the seemingly secret social codes of well-to-do New York blue bloods (bankers, lawyers, and heirs to fortune). In 2002 he published an insightful and accessible biography of Theodore Roosevelt. His final novel, Last of the Old Guard, was published in 2008.