Holden Caulfield was a disaster on skates. Remember? In The Catcher in the Rye? Sally Hayes wants to go ice-skating at Radio City. It’s the kind of ideas she always has. Sure, says Holden, if you want to. Old Sally just wants to see herself in one of those little skirts you can rent that Holden has to admit, looks pretty cute. The funny part, though? Here’s Holden: “We were the worst skaters on the whole goddam rink. I mean the worst. And there were some lulus, too. Old Sally’s ankles kept bending in till they were practically on the ice. They not only looked stupid as hell, but they probably hurt like hell, too. I know mine did. Mine were killing me. We must have looked gorgeous.”
In all the plenty of the J.D. Salinger news that’s breaking this month, most of it doesn’t involve the question of whether Holden ever learned how to handle himself on the ice. Answers in that direction could be still come: one of the biggest revelations to come out of Salinger (Simon and Schuster), the big new oral biography from David Shields and Shane Salerno, is that at least five ‘new’ Salinger books are to be published between 2015 and 2020, and that one of those is a complete history of the Caulfield family. So there’s still hope for Holden on ice.
Posthumous publications (Salinger, of course, died in 2010) aren’t the only headlines to rise from the book (there’s a companion documentary, too, in theatres this week). There’s lots, too, about the horrors Salinger saw as an infantryman in Europe during the Second World War. Also, the German woman he married at war’s end — they could communicate telepathically. There are the teenaged girls that Salinger befriended (and more), their identities revealed now for the first time. Oh, right, and Salerno and Shields are pretty sure that Salinger only had one testicle.
Not yet afforded the prominence it may or may not richly deserve there’s this morsel regarding Salinger’s return to Manhattan after the war. He was 27, 28, writing away, playing some poker, meeting a lot of girls at the drugstore of the Barbizon Hotel for Women on the Upper East Side. Salerno:
He would bring them down to Greenwich Village to various clubs and restaurants he frequented. Several of his friends thought he was interested in these girls, at last in part, for the dialogue he could incorporate into his stories. One girl returned to the Barbizon convinced she had just been out for a date with the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens.