Conversations with Beethoven, by Sanford Friedman. New York: New York Review Books, 2014. 304 pages.
THERE'S AN IRONIC MOMENT in J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye when the solipsistic Holden has a scheme for eliminating from his life the bother of people and conversations. It occurs at the end of the novel, just before Holden meets up with his kid sister, Phoebe, to say good-bye. He’s fed up with phonies, and he’s fed up with everyone and everything. So he sits on a park bench and concocts this plan to get away: He’ll go down to the Holland Tunnel and hitchhike far out West where it’s sunny and where nobody knows him. He figures he’ll get a job at a gas station. And then this is what he says he’ll would do:
I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn’t have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted
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