Letter From J.D. Salinger

One of my treasured possessions is a letter from J. D. Salinger. On our fifth anniversary, my husband had it archived in a sealed frame. During my movings and travelings, somehow, it always stayed safe. Now it hangs on our wall.

When I was a teenager, I discovered Salinger. Immediately, I felt a connection. I avidly read all of his books – sometimes immediately beginning all over after the last word of the book. Because of Salinger, I looked at literature, life, everything in a different way. His books were well thumbed and full of underlined passages. Zen and its nuances opened my mind to yet another way of perception.

In 1976, I found my interest in disco and partying palling. An intense relationship ended. I plunged into a deep depression, my life one of empty sorrow. One night, I sat down and poured out my heart in a letter to Salinger. I felt, he would understand. He would understand how people scarred our hearts, how strange the world felt. With no hope, I mailed the letter to his publisher.

Several months later, I opened my mailbox and pulled out an envelope with handwriting I did not know. I opened it and began to read. How my spirit lifted. How amazed and grateful was my heart. Mr. Salinger had not only received my letter, but had read it and….miracle! Responded. He had no idea how he would affect me. To this day, I can feel that flutter as I read his words. Brief, but he knew. He knew how I felt and reached across miles, years, culture, fame…..

Below is the letter. A poor photograph but I think you all can read it. We never know how our responses will touch someone. His response has triggered in me a gratitude and sensitivity to those who comment or speak to me. My words will touch them. Today, Mr. Salinger’s words touch you all as well, just because of how he responded to me.



17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SirenaTales
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 20:26:42

    Wow, how thrilling! So happy for you, and now us, to savor this story of generosity and connection to and from both of you. Heartening and heartwarming. peace….


  2. machinist
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 20:38:06

    The things we say and do can have such a profound effect on another in ways we may never know or imagine. For over 45 years one of my favorite verses was The Fools Prayer, I used to carry a small copy in my wallet and tried to keep it in mind in my interactions with people. The thoughtless or careless things I did have caused me more sorrow than my sins.

    His was a nice gesture and it was nice of you to share it and it’s meaning, Ma’am. Thank you.


    • kanzensakura
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 20:43:37

      You are more than welcome. I think of “famous” celebrities and compare them. Because of this response to me, they come up a bit shallow. I think of him chopping wood and then going in and writing this to me. On bad days, it gives me heart.

      I know. I wish I could pull back some of my words – sharper and more deadly than my Samurai’s kantana and not nearly as expertly and carefully wielded.


      • David Emeron
        Nov 24, 2013 @ 11:12:08

        How interesting! And on a much lighter note (please forgive me) it seems everyone has had a brush or two with greatness. It might be fun to share some of these in one post with lots of comments. My dearest has a way about her. People seemingly too famous and busy to answer such unsolicited mail/email often do answer her. She seems to be able to charm anyone, no matter how famous.

        And without even trying. It truly is amazing.

        Receiving an answer from J. D. Salinger is certainly one for the hall-of-fame, to be sure! And you did it all without a single visitation from Shoeless Joe….


        • kanzensakura
          Nov 24, 2013 @ 19:51:22

          Fortunately, Mr. Salinger was not able to see my 98 pound self as I sat in the tub, a la Roman and penned the letter. Although he may have found the glass of wine and ashtray on the tall stool beside the tub for easy reaching, a bit amusing.

          I’ve had several encounters w/famous people. the one concerning THE letter and the time I jumped on stage and wrapped my arms around one of Bruce Springsteen’s leg stand out as the more interesting. Shaking hands with folks pale in comparison.


  3. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 20:59:30

    How exciting. A real treasure. I just downloaded a documentary on him on netflix and have been so excited to watch it and now came across this. So glad you rediscovered it. Very thrilling!


  4. barbarastanley
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 21:27:14

    It is always awesome when one soul reaches out to another.


  5. gpcox
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 05:51:01

    Isn’t it terrific when someone you admire so much makes an effort to reach out!! I imagine it was the same feeling I had when I received 2 calls from General E.M. Flanagan.


  6. seeker
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 20:39:54

    That is a keeper. Surprise, surprise, love it. Blessings.


  7. Clowie
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 06:14:25

    I can see why you treasure it.


  8. An Embarrassment of Freedom
    Dec 21, 2013 @ 11:08:57

    The grateful and thoughtful reply that you received is beautiful. The communication between both of you, precious. Sharing the story, inspiring.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 21, 2013 @ 11:51:36

      Thank you. He kept me from eating a bullet with that reply. it truly changed me as much as his writing ever did – maybe more so. I hope his letter to me inspires others and helps them to know the value of their responses. It did me. > Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2013 16:09:00 +0000 > To: thspencer51@hotmail.com >


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