While reading the news this morning, I read that Erich Segal had recently passed on. Now, I read the same, about JD Salinger. Frankly speaking, I’m shocked beyond belief. Yes, I know Salinger was 91, and Segal was over 70, but I’m finding it difficult to come to terms with this – both authors shaped much of my teenage reading.

In fact, the first romantic book I actually liked was Segal’s Only Love (incidentally, my first Segal). Soonafter, I read Love Story, Prizes, The Class, Oliver’s Story, Man Woman And Child, and loved them all. Must’ve been fourteen when I read them all, and I sought Love Story time and again, simply for it’s beautiful simple writing. The opening line will stay with me forever : What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died? And of course, there’s the cheesy Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

And then there’s JD Salinger… I don’t even know where to start. Barring 2009, I’ve read Catcher In The Rye at least once a year. I read it for the first time when I was fourteen (again), and fell in love with Holden Caulfield. He reminded me of myself, which some people say is worrying. I didn’t find it that worrying. In fact, I found it enduring – a fictional character who is that much of an idealist, mocks pretentiousness (phoniness), is over-protective about his younger sister, and loves digressions. In fact, for the longest time, Catcher was my comfort read – whenever upset or depressed, I’d pick it up and just flip through the pages. It always cheered me up. After that experience, I was scared to pick up another Salinger, lest it disappointed. I’m still scared…

And now, ten years later, I just think it’s a sad day for literature. I know I haven’t read a Segal in forever, but, I can’t forget the days of reading his works again, and again. Words really can’t capture how much both authors mean to me, and just how shell-shocked I am at the moment.

I’m going to dig out my copy of Catcher in the Rye tonight. As well as the only Segal I have here : Doctors. And read both, and lose myself in the beautiful world that existed when I was fourteen… at least I knew it, I loved it, and I remember it affectionately.

RIP Mr. Segal. RIP Mr. Salinger. And my thoughts do go out to your families and friends. And, I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve given me.

20 Responses to “Disbelief”

  1. It has been a sad couple of years for literature (especially American literature) with some huge, literary (male) greats dying. It was a year ago yesterday that John Updike died :(.

    I haven’t read any Erich Segal but I will now and I am going to read Franny & Zooey for the first time, sad that I haven’t until now.

    • :(

      I haven’t read a single Updike yet, and I feel as though I should really change that. Haven’t read Franny & Zooey either, but, intend to change that much sooner!

  2. I’m sad about Salinger and Segal too- it’s too bad. But they had long lives and produced lots of great work that will live on for a long, long time. that’s something to be grateful for.

  3. 5 deucekindred

    I was GUTTED when I read the news about Salinger. Alongside Huxley’s Brave New World, Catcher in the Rye was a book which opened my eyes and changed my life – no exaggerations!

    As for the other Salinger books – well Franny and Zooey is very good, I didn’t really like Nine Stories too much (too precious) and while Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters is brilliant, Seymour : an Introduction is a bit dull. All my opinion anyways.

    • I can fully believe that. I only read Brave New World last year, and it didn’t make that much of an impression on me. Don’t get me wrong – I was fascinated by the book, but, it didn’t change my life. 1984, I think, did, to an extent – my first waltz into dystopian literature.

      Catcher in the Rye is absolutely fantastic, and each time I read it, I’m struck by how brilliant it is, and how much I still love the book, as much as I did the first time I read it – maybe even more.

  4. 7 kiss a cloud

    Where have I been? I heard about Salinger today and just got on the computer and posted about it, but didn’t know Segal passed away. :( I loved them both. While I think a lot about Salinger still, I’ve forgotten about Segal. Both also shaped much of my teenage reading, like you. While a teenager I have read Love Story, Acts of Faith, The Class, Doctors, and Man, Woman and Child. My favourite was Doctors, but not sure how I’ll see it now. Hope you report back positively after reading it..

    • Like you, I’d forgotten about Segal as well, until well, now. I’m reading Doctors and am enjoying it so far. His writing was incredible – made the characters come to life, and gave each of them such powerful background stories.

  5. Howard Zinn, too. A Peoples’ History and Franny and Zooey were probably equally important to me in different ways…sad day.

  6. I think I’ll be doing the same as lots of other people and reading something by Salinger this week. Catcher in the Rye struck a real chord with me when I was 15, but I’ve always wondered whether my response would be different as an adult so reading that is one option, but I’ve also got Franny and Zooey and Nine Stories here which I haven’t read, so That could be another. Or maybe Catcher and one of the others!

    • I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts, specially if you decide to re-read Catcher. I still love it, and can seek it out anytime any day, and feel incredibly happy for having something like that at hand.

  7. 13 farmlanebooks

    I haven’t read anything by either author, which seems terrible. A few of us a doing a joint read for Catcher in the Rye in Feb. but I really should read something by Segal too. Sad that it takes their deaths to finally persuade me to read their books.

    • Indeed, but at least you still get to experience their writing and appreciate their talents. Would love to see how you get on with Catcher. I love Holden Caulfield.

  8. I hope re-reading Catcher in the Rye helps you to feel a little better. I didn’t get on with it all that well, and feel a little sad that if I ever do come to appreciate it, it won’t be in the author’s lifetime. It has always troubled me to read contemporary books when the authors of said books are dead.

  9. Jeepers, add these to Robert Parker’s death two weeks ago and we have three dead authors. Yikes! And, I’ll miss each one for his contributions to our world.

  10. I didn’t really know Segal wrote anything apart from Love Story – now I do! Thank you.

    I’m another one who wants to read Franny and Zooey.

    • You’re welcome. If you do seek out more of his books, I hope you enjoy them. :)

      As for Franny and Zooey, I really should get to it sooner rather than later…..

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