I Respect J.D. Salinger

June 19, 2009 at 10:23 pm (Authors Who Influence)

This is not a post about the merits of The Catcher in the Rye.  I read the book in high school and even though I found it entertaining it did not change my life like other books have.  My respect stems from Mr. Salinger’s firm belief in his characters remaining true to form as he created them.

Recently an article appeared in The New York Times about the controversy of a new book being released.  The book is about Holden Caulfield as a 76-year-old man. The author is currently in a court battle over copyright infringement.  Usually I find myself against taking measures as far as the courtroom, but I continued to read the article and realized the lengths Mr. Salinger has gone in order to protect the integrity of his characters.

If you have ever written anything, you know the bond an author has with his/her characters.  The same can be said when you fall in love with characters in a book only to be disappointed by the film depiction of those characters.  You feel cheated.  Many times the film version is a cheap imitation of the people you came to love.

J.D. Salinger has protected the character of Holden Caulfield, and even though he is not one of my favorite characters I recognize his status as a literary icon—I respect that status.  When I read about Mr. Salinger turning down offers by Steven Spielberg and others I fully grasped the level of love he feels for Caulfield.  It seems almost fatherly.  That protection is worth fighting for, and it is definitely worth my respect.

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Zombies Ruined Diet Coke

May 31, 2009 at 6:43 pm (Authors Who Influence)

A month ago I was on Amazon looking up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because of a recent review I’d read in The Dallas Morning News.  Confession: I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, but I wanted to read the zombie version.  In the review the writer mentioned that adding zombies would help speak to the teen boys who couldn’t muddle through Austen’s style.  I have to admit that even though I’m a 26 year old female I need the zombies. I tried to read the original many times, and as much as I love to read I can’t get through Austen’s writing. Another Confession: I love the movies based on Austen’s books, and own all of them except Northanger Abbey.  Every time I watch The Jane Austen Book Club I have a new resolve to read the novels, but I always fail.

While doing this zombie research I came across the novel Breathers by S. G. Browne, published this year.  The summary sounded intriguing.  It’s not everyday you hear about a group of zombies going to a support group.  I decided to read the book.  However, if I had known the effects it would have on me I probably would’ve skipped it altogether.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the story.  I didn’t enjoy what it pointed out to me about Diet Coke.

The zombies in the novel require a certain intake of formaldehyde in order to stay somewhat preserved.  They receive this “nutrition” from several sources such as shampoo, make-up, and yes, Diet Coke.  I was appalled when I read that.  Surely the author was taking artistic license with such a horrific comment.  After all, Browne is writing about zombies, and they aren’t real.  Why would this be? 

I decided to research further.  You may say, why bother?  Keep reading and move on.  I couldn’t.  I love Diet Coke, and Browne does an exquisite job of describing the zombies in detail.  So when I picture their decomposing bodies drinking my beloved Diet Coke it makes me feel ill.  After setting the book aside I googled Diet Coke and formaldehyde and this is what I found. Aspartame, one of the sweeteners in Diet Coke, other diet drinks, and many diet products contains formaldehyde.  There are many articles on the effects of aspartame to the human body when large doses are consumed, but none of those articles had the effect Browne’s novel achieved. 

It’s been a month since I’ve enjoyed a cold Diet Coke.  I said goodbye to my breakfast friend and my afternoon colleague.  Thanks a lot Browne.  I enjoyed your novel, but at what price?

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Nick Hornby Adds to My Reading List

May 30, 2009 at 7:24 pm (Authors Who Influence)

Yesterday I was at the bookstore looking for Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.  I heard of the book from a friend’s blog (this friend has great taste in books) and I decided I had to read it…I had to own it.  Each day I discover a new book I must buy.  Sometimes I spend hours on Amazon and the New York Times websites making lists for future reading. My book addiction is very serious and very expensive.  So you can imagine how pleased I was when I discovered that Nick Hornby suffers from the same addiction.  While looking for the Rilke book I stumbled upon something amazing.  The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby.  The book is a compilation of essays Hornby wrote for the Believer magazine. 

Each essay begins with two lists: (1) a Books Bought column and (2) a Books Read column.  Perfect.  Just like Hornby I buy hundreds of books I will never read and usually my Books Bought column outweighs my Books Read column.  I’m happy to report The Polysyllabic Spree belongs in both columns.  I have to admit that I’ve never read a Hornby novel. I’ve picked them up many times and read the blurbs, but ultimately I always decided against reading them. Now after reading his essays I know what I have been missing out on.  A clever and comic style of writing which can’t be found elsewhere.

When I bought Hornby’s essays yesterday, I thought I was going to benefit from reading someone who understands me.  And I did. However, Hornby also contributed to my addiction by creating a craving for more of his writing.  Directly after finishing his book I went to Amazon and ordered the other two essay compilations written for the Believer magazine, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt and Shakespeare Wrote for Money.  I will be adding his novels to my must-read list, and many of the books he mentions in his essays.

My addiction continues, but at least I have a brilliant writer like Nick Hornby on my side.

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