Well, this is awkward. Today’s New York Times has a piece by Katie Zezima, who went to Cornish, New Hampshire, home of deceased recluse J.D. Salinger, to talk to the perfectly nice people who knew him. Salinger is remembered as a “towns-person” who enjoyed church suppers, attended town meetings, and let neighborhood children sled down his hill in the winter. Respecting his wish for privacy, folks in Cornish say they always gave bad directions to out-of-towners who came looking for Salinger’s home (“How far afield the directions went ‘depended on how arrogant they were,’ said Mike Ackerman, owner of the Cornish General Store”). In today’s New Yorker, though, the magazine’s Lillian Ross remembers her friend J.D., who once told her how he really felt about Cornish.
When he had young children, and was living in Cornish, New Hampshire, he did the usual things. But he was always watching. Once, he showed me a program for the Cornish Fair. It’s innocent enough, and that’s something, he said, but even the fair was guilty of its own style of hustling. He took his children to ride on the flying swings. “I stand around and talk about schools with the other crummy parents, the summer parents,” he wrote in a letter to me.
It probably just got a little easier to find Salinger’s house.