THE BLOG

J.D. Salinger's Letters to Me

02/07/2010 02:21 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

One of the perquisites of the literary life -- a life which, I am humbled to say, I have been fortunate enough to lead -- is that if one attains a certain stature -- which, again, I have -- one gets to meets one's idols. In my case, the idol I was humbled and fortunate enough to meet one J.D. Salinger.

Over the last thirty years of his life, Salinger -- or Jerry, as his closest intimates called him -- exchanged hundreds of letters with me, a correspondence which both of us found profoundly nourishing to our souls. I never told anyone about these letters nor revealed their contents for fear that I would be exploiting a friendship that to me was more important than life itself. But in the aftermath of his death, events have impelled me to reconsider my position. Over the past two weeks, I have had to witness the sorry spectacle of an opportunistic pack of literary jackals rushing to publish reminiscences of their chance meetings with Jerry at a hardware store or dentist's waiting room or tanning salon, all in the name of preserving the historical record. Offended by the effluvia of these charlatans, I decided it was time for one of Jerry's closest friends to speak out.

Here, then, is a snapshot of my cherished correspondence with Jerry Salinger. In these letters, which represent only a tiny fraction of the epistolary trove, one finds a Jerry who is sometimes playful, sometimes prickly, but always curious -- and always, unmistakably, Jerry.

Dear Jerry,
I hope this letter finds you well. Dropped by your house last night but you weren't in. Making great progress on my writing. How is yours going?
Fondly,
Andy

Dear Mr. Borowitz,
According to the Cornish Police Department, you were found trespassing on Mr. Salinger's property last night for the third time this week. This letter is to advise you that if you set foot on his property one more time you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Sincerely,
Herman Schrake, Esq.
Attorney to J.D. Salinger

Dear Jerry,
I have a sense -- and am fairly sure about this -- that you are entering a very productive phase. Bravo! The reason I say this is that I notice that you do not come to the door when the doorbell rings, even when I hold it down for fifteen minutes or more. Your work ethic is enviable. As a fellow writer -- and more importantly, as a dear friend -- I salute you.
Fondly,
Andy

Dear Mr. Borowitz,
This letter is to remind you that you missed the court date of April 11 for your hearing on charges of trespassing and harassment. Failure to appear at your next date could result in your being found in contempt, punishable by a sentence of up to ninety days in jail.
Cornish Town Court

Dear Jerry,
How important solitude is to a writer! One really cannot put a price on it. (Of course, I am speaking to the converted on this topic!) Well, fortunately for me, solitude is something I now have in abundance, at least for the next ninety days. I don't mean to interrupt your work, which I am certain is going very well, but if you have a spare moment, would you happen to have Thomas Pynchon's address? More here.

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