I always liked the idea of JD Salinger more than I liked anything that Salinger wrote. Franny and Zooey was ok, I guess, but Catcher in the Rye is massively overrated. Generations of literary hipsters have named their children "Holden" because they saw Catcher's protagonist as the ideal; an authentic James Dean type, maybe, railing against the phoniness of modern life.
Me: When I got around to reading the book at age 17 -- during my year of reading classic novels that were often banned -- I simply couldn't believe what a whiny sonofabitch the kid was. I don't think it's because I had the soul of a College Republican; I was reading books like Johnny Got His Gun, Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five that year and they were greatly influencing me. I just think that Holden Caufield was a whiny sonofabitch. Which makes me suspicious of all those who idolize him.
Salinger, of course, withdrew from public life after Catcher. The glimpses we got of him over the intervening decades were not flattering; he apparently had a pretty creepy sex life. But there's something fascinating and inspirational about an artist who produces One Great Work and gives it to the world, then hides himself forevermore. Too bad the reality of JD Salinger could never, ever live up to the hype.