I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, for the usual reasons. I’ve got nothing to brag about. I don’t post proud-parent pictures, glamorize my perfect vacation (not that I’ve taken one recently), or spout about my life philosophy.
I’m also not a shameless self-promoter on Facebook, although I do occasionally post a subliminal message about how much someone might enjoy one of my books. Occasionally, I’ll share one of my better blog entries. Plus, I’ve got my interest groups I follow and a few Facebook friends I haven’t actually seen in twenty or forty years that I like to keep tabs on.
When I do go on Facebook, I’m mostly showing up in hopes of finding a rare gem of content that fulfills me. The other day I did just that when I saw this quote from J.D. Salinger, he of “The Catcher in the Rye” fame:
What I love about this sentence is how it conveys absolutely nothing about the girl and everything about the narrator. If he sees a girl who is doing nothing except holding the universe together by leaning on a balcony railing, you know this fella is lonely, infatuated, and doomed. All of this in one simple, perfect sentence.
I investigated a bit and discovered this quote was from a 1948 Salinger short story called “A Girl I Knew.” A click here and a click there and I found the text of the story.
It’s probably not Salinger’s best short story (See “For Esme—With Love and Squalor” or “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”), but it was a story I was unfamiliar with and grateful to discover and read. I also took a dive down the internet wormhole of reading more about Salinger’s life and career as a writer. I found out that “The Catcher in the Rye” likely has the distinction of being the most frequently assigned as well as the most banned novel in high schools. Who wouldn’t want to write that book?
Now I’ve put “Nine Stories” and “The Catcher in the Rye” on my high and teetering stack of books to read, or in this case reread yet again. There’s never been another fictional voice like Salinger’s, although there have been countless imitators. I’m looking forward to digging in. It might not have happened without Facebook.