I wonder if I’m becoming a recluse? I work at home. I fret constantly now about running outside in the dark of the early a.m., figuring that I am only a sliver of ice away from a broken hip or worse. And on days when it’s cold and snowing — well, don’t look for me to be out and about much. Burr.
Maybe it’s just the culmination of senior moments during the winter months here in NE Ohio. But I wonder what it really means to be labeled a recluse?
That was a common description of J.D. Salinger. He died last week at his home in Cornish, N.H. Here’s the NYT obit: “J.D. Salinger, Literary Recluse, Dies at 91.”
Like millions of others, I read “Catcher in the Rye” — but I’m certainly no expert on his writing, literary legacy and so on. Yet like many others, I excepted the view that Mr. Salinger was a recluse.
Of the articles I read following his death last week, I actually find this one the most interesting. It certainly challenges some commonly held perceptions — and if accurate, it presents one of those lessons that things might not be as they seem, or as they are portrayed. It’s written by Katie Zezima in the NYT, “J.D. Salinger a Recluse? Well, Not to His Neighbors.” Here’s from the article:
N.H. — His most famous character, Holden Caulfield, said it was impossible to find a place that is “nice and peaceful,” but J. D. Salinger may have found something close for himself in the woods of this tiny town.
Here Mr. Salinger was just Jerry, a quiet man who arrived early to church suppers, nodded hello while buying a newspaper at the general store and wrote a thank-you note to the fire department after it extinguished a blaze and helped save his papers and writings.
Despite his reputation, Mr. Salinger “was not a recluse,” said Nancy Norwalk, a librarian at the Philip Read Memorial Library in Plainfield, which Mr. Salinger would frequent. “He was a towns- person.”
Maybe it’s how you define recluse.
I guess I should try to grapple with that before ending this post. But I have to head outside to walk the dog and go to the store.