J.D.Salinger should have been a horror writer, or at least, should have become one after admitting he regretted having ever written his masterpiece: THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. That was, after he’d already become a recluse…and after it’d become known that the book (which seethes contempt for phonies) inspired the guys who shot John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, and Rebecca Schaeffer.
Salinger – the greatest American writer since Hemingway, and who had on him an early manuscript of CATCHER as he stormed the carnaged* beaches at Normandy during WW2 – only saw the worst in humanity. So much so, he spent the last 60 years of his life staying clear of it. He was a recluse; having shun his celebrity and the many perks most in the biz sold their souls for. Not all the perks, though. He was of course, shagging as many 19-year old literary groupies as he could, for as long as he could…privately. Bless his soul. You can’t trust an artist who doesn’t indulge, at least a little bit.
But his disdain for humanity begged the question back when he was alive: Why not just become a horror writer, instead of an asshole, J.D.? In horror, you get to punish assholes, after they do something to bring the horror upon themselves, and ideally, after you put them through hell and back, literally, thematically, and any other way you see fit. Let’s look at some our options. You can flay alive a pretentious studio exec with a butter knife after chasing him around all night through a frozen wasteland while tormenting him with subliminally phallic surrealism, representing every cock he sucked on the way up – literally and metaphorically.
But in all seriousness, the horror genre allows what every other genre does not: a completely honest assessment of humanity – as you see it – and what ought to be done about it, minus the public outrage. After all, “it’s just a horror movie”. But in fact, these are often serious tales of morality and consequence (as I’ll discuss in a later post), not open-ended condemnations of the masses which can inspire sick people to kill. Usually, quite the opposite. In horror, assholes pay the ultimate price. Cosmic justice is served. Closure.
Back to Salinger, the closeted horror writer. If only he would have had the balls to continue writing, or should I say, publishing honest works about his contempt for humanity and what he thought should have been done about it, no matter how metaphorically grotesque. Both he and humanity would have been better off for it.
So fuck you J.D.. You should have been a horror writer, like Coldrock…
*Yes, I just made up that word: “carnaged”.