Chicago blogger Erin Shea wrote a piece about JD Salinger yesterday. She had been listening to the NPR report with an English teacher. ““This is the book they keep,” he said. “This is the one they never give away.””
“I never have either. Yellow, worn and frayed, I have never let go of my original copy, the one my parents bought me for Christmas when I was in 7th grade. I’m looking at it right now, searching for underlined words, my name scrawled in the margins, dog-eared pages. Do you ever open a book and find something inside like that? As though these books you’ve been carrying around with you for years and years suspend time for you somehow by keeping those things for you?”
Oh, hell. So I went to into my library to look for it. It took awhile because it was still wrapped up – in a book cover way, with the actual English assignment – “supposing that our district was facing the prospect of having Catcher in the Rye banned…” There appear to be Diet Coke stains on the piece of paper – which also have my name and the title of the book written in purple ink in handwriting that was once mine and the word “pesadia” on the back in pink ink, in handwriting that I don’t quite recognize. Kris used to write in pink, though. What does “pesadia” mean, anyway? Cursory Google search gave me nothing.
Also in the pages was a little card that came with the candy cane – my school did a fundraiser every holiday where you could send treats to your friends – from Matt my sophomore year. I won’t even tell you what he wrote, but it was vulgar. I do not have dog-eared pages, underlining or notes in the margins.
I couldn’t say that this book changed my life on any conscious level. But around that time – the half-way point of my sophomore year – was when I started to like being in a classroom again. When I stopped hating the world and started to get over myself. If I had to be there I might as well learn something, right? How many teenagers do you know whose rebellion was substantially over before they even turned 16?
Anyway. I ought to toss that old, damaged thing in the trash and get a nice new copy, but I won’t.