With The Morgan Library’s upcoming exhibition of ten brief letters and one postcard from J.D. Salinger to his “Buddyroo” E. Michael Mitchell, the artist who designed the original cover to The Catcher in the Rye, five decades of privacy and silence will end. Adam Kirsch writes in the Journal that the physical aura of the author’s letters, the energy of Salinger’s goldenrod stationary, astounds.
Even before you read them—as I had the opportunity to do during a recent visit—the letters’ mere physical presence has a certain aura. The paper (Salinger had a fondness for goldenrod-colored sheets) and the typeface, ordinary in themselves, are the same ones with which the writer, in between letters, must have been producing hundreds of pages of extraordinary, unpublished fiction.
Such a small exhibit cultivates as much as it peels back the mystery. Salinger was not just private with the public but with his friends as well.
His whole life, he explains, is devoted to “exploring things, looking into things with my writing, my fiction,” and there was no room left for social amenities. Perhaps it was inevitable that the correspondence would break off acrimoniously, when Salinger refused his friend’s request for a signed copy of “Catcher.”
The exhibit opens on March 16, and a second batch of letters will go on display April 13 and run through May 9.