Why no writer can match Salinger’s voice

Why no writer can match Salinger’s voice
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First Published: Thu, Feb 11 2010. 09 23 PM IST

Updated: Thu, Feb 11 2010. 09 23 PM IST
Tomorrow, as you scramble to get red roses for a candlelight dinner with your sweetie, you could raise a champagne toast to any number of things: Sania’s disengagement, Rathore’s disgrace, stalled Bt brinjal, true love. Or you could dismiss the whole lot as damn “phoneys”.
Jerome David Salinger, who died last month at age 91, would approve. He, along with Ayn Rand, inspires hyperbole and cultish devotion. Their books achieve the troika that every aspiring author longs for: original, long-lasting best-sellers. Best of all, not only are their books and characters unforgettable (remember Howard Roark?), they are immensely readable. How many of us have finished Moby Dick beyond that most memorable of first lines: “Call me Ishmael”? How many of us, even those who cop to the literati label, have read Proust, Tolstoy, Tagore, or Hemingway—not the abstracts or reviews but the books? Generations of college students on the other hand read Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Rand’s Atlas Shrugged from cover to cover. Former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan converted from being a “logical positivist” to Rand’s “objectivist” philosophy. Would it be a reach to say that Greenspan’s Rand-inspired belief in the infallibility of free markets caused the slowdown?
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First Published: Thu, Feb 11 2010. 09 23 PM IST