1. I learned yesterday (like most of you) that J.D. Salinger died Wednesday, at the age of 91. His New York Times obituary focuses mainly on his 50 years of reclusiveness, but did have this to say about the italics:
The stories were remarkable for their sharp social observation, their pitch-perfect dialogue (Mr. Salinger, who used italics almost as a form of musical notation, was a master not of literary speech but of speech as people actually spoke it), and for the way they demolished whatever was left of the traditional architecture of the short story — the old structure of beginning, middle, end — in favor of an architecture of emotion, in which a story could turn on a tiny alteration of mood or irony.
2. I have to admit that I always wondered if more Salinger would be published after he died, but now that he’s dead I’d rather think of him still writing every day than of being able to read more of his work.
3. If you would like to read any of the short stories online, you can use your subscription to The New Yorker to do so here or you can read them for free (gasp! just like a library!) here.
ETA: 4. And The Onion’s take on it: Bunch of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger. Thank you, Onion.