Salinger and Vonnegut

February 20, 2011

I was reading a review of a book on J.D. Salinger. And his horrific experiences in World War 2. I couldn’t help compare his experiences with my own father’s and with Kurt Vonnegut. Both my dad and Salinger were silent about those experiences. Salinger experienced some kind of post traumatic disorder. Vonnegut on the other hand decided to talk about his experiences. His most well known novel Slaughterhouse Five is about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden during the bombing. Ironically both Vonnegut and Salinger fought in the Battle of the Bulge. When I first read Catcher in the Rye, I loved it. I remember reading other stories by Salinger and feeling disappointed. In my youthful exuburance I classified Catcher as a masterpiece. I know longer hold that view. I’m not sure that Salinger isn’t more of a social icon than a great writer. Unless a great book is sitting in a drawer somewhere, I think Vonnegut’s work will be assessed as more interesting.

2 Responses to “Salinger and Vonnegut”

  1. I like what you had to say about Salinger/Vonnegut. I think of Salinger as a boy– perhaps he regressed due to the trauma of war, to protect himself?– but Vonnegut is adult, looking at things (perhaps over and over), feeling pain, dealing with it. I do enjoy both, though, depending on my mood. Thank you for your insights! They made me think.

  2. They are both fine writers. But Vonnegut is more fun.

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