ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

In Memoriam J.D. Salinger

J.D. SalingerJ.D. Salinger died today at 91, and like so many writers and bloggers and journalists reflecting on his writing, life and eccentricities, I am stumbling.

He was a gifted and esoteric writer. He was an inspiration. He was a mystery clinging to privacy. It seems that this latter characterization has intrigued the public almost as much as his craftsmanship. I you count yourself among this lot, you might enjoy a wander over to Kenneth Slawenski’s post “J.D. Salinger’s Untold Stories: Tales Of A Recluse“. If you’re experiencing Salinger’s passing as a sort of memento mori you might be find company in Ron Rosenbaum’s June 1997 article for Esquire, The Man in the Glass House.

The silence surrounding this place is not just any silence. It is the work of a lifetime. It is the work of renunciation and determination and expensive litigation. It is a silence of self-exile, cunning, and contemplation. In its own powerful, invisible way, the silence is in itself an eloquent work of art. It is the Great Wall of Silence J.D. Salinger has built around himself. (Ron Rosenbaum, Longform)

Like his infamous antihero who briefly yearned to wander west pretending to be mute (or deaf? I don’t remember which) Salinger horded silence. Words are written, not explained. Perhaps they can’t or shouldn’t be explained. Perhaps this is Salinger’s legacy, the reminder that words like graffiti on a cave wall are at best an imperfect roadmap for fleeting truths. No, that’s not it. That’s a haul of bollocks! Let’s try again…

Words are enough. Too much, even. They are the best we can do, and asking them to morph into reality — either through the magic of cinema or the exegesis of the author — is self indulgent voodoo. Looks like I’m off the rails again.

Salinger’s Holden Caulfield is at once an archetypal storyteller and audience, a warrior against hypocrisy and a guardian of childhood innocence. He embodies the inevitable contradictions of adolescence and of the writing life. I suspect this literary anchor has inspired and encourage a great many storytellers.

Jonathan Safran Foer has stated that, ‘many readers were created by The Catcher in the Rye, and many writers, too. He and his characters embodied a kind of American resistance that has been sorely missed these last few years, and will now be missed even more.’ (The Penguin Blog)

Where from there? I’m tossing darts in the dark and missing the bulls eye. Missing the dartboard altogether. No doubt Salinger would have been mortified with the swell of memorials.

  • “Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.” ~ J.D. Salinger
  • “I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.” ~ J.D. Salinger
  • “I am a kind of paranoid in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.” ~ J.D. Salinger
  • “An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms and not any one else’s.” ~ J.D. Salinger

That last quotation is a suitable closing note. As wouuld be any of the thirteen short stories that Salinger published in The New Yorker between 1946 and 1965 including “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters“. (Available online to subscribers.) Or better yet? Read or re-read The Catcher in the Rye.

N.B. With so many pretensions Latin-isms (In memoriam, Memento mori) cluttering a single, brief blog post, I’d better lather on one more, Nota bene: I pinched this photograph of J.D. Salinger from Soup, but it appears to be a stock photo since it appears all over the place. (In other words, the credit unknown. Apologies.)


What’s a Book?

What’s a book? Is this timely, or what?

(Cartoon via

Publishing, Embrace the Change

“What I really love is that after working for (gulp) over twenty years in publishing, the game is still changing. Though no one really knows what the new business model(s) will look like, or how they’ll generate revenue, I am optimistic (or foolish) enough to think that these challenging times will give way to an exciting new landscape when all the details shake out. And I am honored to bear witness to this rebirth.”

via Lydia Dishman’s blog

The game is changing for sure, and it’s damned exciting! I feel like book publishing and storytelling in its purest form are re-converging. Storytelling in the digital age will grow more and more engaging, more and more compelling. I share Lydia Dishman’s optimism; only a lack of imagination can inhibit the exciting new means of sharing stories.

Publisher in Talks with Apple over IPad

“Brian Murray, the chief executive of HarperCollins, said in December that e-books enhanced with video, author interviews and social-networking applications could command higher retail prices for publishers than current e-books.” (Wall Street Journal)

I’m keeping my eyes on @harperstudio and vook among others…

How the Brain Works

The Brain as Explained by John Cleese

Wonder. Full of… Thanks to @BoingBoing for making the other parts of my day so much better, so much easier to understand. TGIF! Er, Wednesday?

Artichoke Imperial Star Hybrid

Last fall Susan and I were roaming Old Montreal when we discovered several artichokes plants alive and thriving. I couldn’t believe it. So I did a little research. Lo and behold, I discovered that the Imperial Star Hybrid Artichoke is able to grow and produce as an annual even this far north. So, in addition to the Cuore di Bue tomatoes, Artichoke Imperial Star Hybrid Artichoke are on my “Must Plant” list.

Burpee has the seeds, and I’ve just placed the order. Here’s what they say: “Grow your own artichokes and enjoy the large, edible flower buds at their prime. Attractive plants with grey-green foliage grow 4′ tall with a similar spread.Grows best in full sun. Produces buds the first year. High yields of sweet, mild tasting flower buds, 4-1/2″ in diameter, which are very slow to open when mature.”

Cuore di Bue Tomato


Tomato slices

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve started ordering vegetable seeds for my garden this summer, and Cuore di Bue Tomato is new to me. I tasted these tomatoes grown in a friend’s garden and decided to add Cuore di Bue to my “Must Plant” list.

Here’s what they have to say over at Territorial Seed Company where I placed my order: “This curious and striking tomato is guaranteed to turn heads as well as satisfy appetites. Its name is simply Italian for oxheart, although this selection (Riviera) is an exotic twist on the oxheart tomato type. These big tomatoes have a bottom-heavy shape reminiscent of a pouch with a gathered top. They measure 3 1/2 inches wide and 4 inches long and weigh in just under 1/2 pound each. Cuore di Bue is one of the tastiest saucing types with dense flesh and lustrous, orangey-red skin.”

Save Yourself, Save the Industry

“I hope by now the whole question of ‘should I self produce/publish my work’ has been settled. Of course you should. Is there a catch? Of course there is.” (Adam Thurman, January 27, 2010, Mission Paradox)

“Great companies, great entrepreneurs [sic], force industries to change. The best way for you to create a better, fairer, more robust theatre/visual arts/dance/indie film world is by building your own thing and building it well. Your success will put pressure on the rest of the field. They will change because you and your fellow entrepreneurs have left them no other choice.” (Adam Thurman, January 27, 2010, Mission Paradox)

Some unfettered wisdom about self publishing from Adam Thurman over at Mission Paradox (via@chriscasquilho) that reminds me of Gary Vaynerchuk’s (@garyvee) Crush It!


Adventures with Ruth

“There’s no better way to experience a culture than to stand at the stove with a wonderful cook.” ~ Ruth Reichl

So long, Gourmet. We’re going to miss you.

Chocolate. Where Are You When I Need You?

Chocolate via

Posted by virtualDavis via web from virtualDavis’s posterous

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