‘If you really want to hear about it . . .’ the spirit of reclusive author J.D. Salinger, who spent the fall semester of 1938 as an Ursinus College freshman, was brought to life during a Catcher in the Rye Read-a-thon in Ursinus’s Myrin Library Jan. 26. The 1951 novel was read aloud by members of the Ursinus College Literary Society and guest readers, in an inaugural J.D. Salinger Read-a-Thon. Salinger died on Jan. 27, 2010.
The six-hour event reading the book from start to finish included themed refreshments and musical interludes featuring tunes main character Holden Caulfield might have heard.
Associate Professor of English Meredith Goldsmith, who developed the idea with a committee of library staff, said the event is modeled on Bloomsday, when James Joyce’s Ulyssess is read at events on June 16.
The College also honors Salinger with a Creative Writing Award that offers a generous scholarship to a writer of originality and potential, according to the award’s faculty advisor Jon Volkmer, Professor of English. The freshman award winner has the option of living in the room Salinger lived in: Curtis Hall, Room 300.
Students Logan Metcalf-Kelly 2014 of Rockwell, Texas, Quinn Gilman-Forlini 2015 of Lake Peekskill, N.Y., Nora Sternlof 2016 of New London, Conn., and Anne Rus 2017 of Parkton, Md., and are the current Creative Writing scholars. Rus is the freshman living in the room this year.
For his part, J.D. Salinger has said he liked Ursinus. Not only is his satisfaction noted in a book by his daughter, Margaret Salinger (Dream Catcher: A Memoir), but also in a letter Salinger wrote to his babysitter recommending Ursinus, which hangs in Corson Hall. “I look back with a great deal of pleasure on my own days at Ursinus,” he wrote.