I was slightly stunned to see the news of J. D. Salinger’s death. I haven’t read him in decades, but he once meant a great deal to me. It wasn’t so much The Catcher in the Rye that moved me, but his book Nine Stories. When I was in high school, my dream was to become a novelist, and I studied his craftsmanship very carefully. I loved the subtle inner harmonies. Even his use of commas was something to pay close attention to. It seems futile to employ that level of literary craft nowadays. I did a wee bit of it in The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, but no one has ever noticed a single instance. If Salinger was writing during his years of seclusion, and if they publish any of it, I’ll be sure to check it out. I still love good writing. It’s a dying art, though. Few writers or readers have enough patience. Salinger also served as my introduction to Zen and Taoism. At the time, I thought they were weird affectations for a Westerner; but they’ve ended up meaning everything to me.