Nothing was wrong with me except that I’ve been in an almost constant state of despondency and I thought it would be good to talk to somebody sane. They asked me about my sex life (which couldn’t be normaler—gracious!) and about my childhood (Normal)… I’ve always liked the Army … There are very few arrests left to be made in our section. We’re now picking up children under ten if their attitudes are snotty. Gotta get those ole arrest forms up to Army, gotta fatten up the Report.
…I’ve written a couple more of my incestuous stories, and several poems, and part of a play. If I ever get out of the Army I might finish the play and invite Margaret O’Brien to play with me in it. With a crew-cut and a Max Factor dimple over my navel, I could play Holden Caulfield myself. I once gave a very sensitive performance as Raleigh in “Journey’s End.”
I’d give my right arm to get out of the Army, but not on a psychiatric, this-man-is-not-fit-for-the-Army-life ticket. I have a very sensitive novel in mind, and I won’t have the author called a jerk in 1950. I am a jerk, but the wrong people mustn’t know it.
I wish you’d drop me a line if you can manage it. Removed from this scene, is it much easier to think clearly? I mean with your work.
J. D. Salinger’s letter to Ernest Hemingway, written from a Nuremberg military hospital where Salinger was being treated for combat stress. (From Craig Brown’s Hello Goodbye Hello, via Huffington Post)
“I am a jerk, but the wrong people mustn’t know it.”