With all due respect for Holden--always on the lookout for people being phonies--people being emoji seemed appropriate, including Stradlater bro-propriate. (RIP, little Allie Caulfield.) As the new Salinger bio, of course, shows some inevitable parallels between the author and his moody protagonist, young Jerry is played by the same emoji as Holden. Beware the mustached man. He's four "goddamn" different people.

You could read the 720-page bio, or see the documentary on opening night tomorrow--or you can gain deep insight into the real J.D. Salinger via these seven lines of graphically reductive characters. We're not certain that Salinger got kicked out of prep school Holden-style, but he certainly waved goodbye to multiple educational institutions. When he was a little older (though not known to have a mustache in real life), the author fought in WWII. Fortunately he came back to the city where the Statue of Liberty lives and started writing The Catcher in the Rye.

"The boy himself is too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it." — The Catcher in the Rye original cover blurb, 1951

For a brief period, Holden is a productive student at Pencey Prep--until he's not. He makes a point of saying goodbye to his favorite teacher, Mr. Spencer, who scolds him for his poor academic performance.

Here, Holden--a writer like Salinger--writes the saddest essay ever, about his dead brother's catcher's mitt. He gets in a fistfight with his roommate over Jane Gallagher (of course he does, look at her!), which sends him packing, off to New York.

Ah, Holden in New York! His big-city adventures begins with wanting to call Phoebe, but then realizing it's too late at night for that and subverting the urge, as we all do, into dancing with older ladies in a lounge. Prone to nostalgia, he reminisces about a highly idealized Jane and how they'd met over her dog peeing on his lawn.

Then things get a little more only-in-New York for Holden: He has a bout with an elevator man over a prostitute and visits the Museum of Natural History. Romantically, there seems to be some drunk dialing involved. There's a date gone awry, and then a failed friend-date.

The novel wraps up with our protagonist's cold journey home. Of course, he stops by Central Park in the snow (non-rowboat season) and famously wonders about the ducks and the seasons. He decides to sneak into his childhood apartment to surprise a sleeping Phoebe.

A searching Holden has an awkward meeting with a former teacher, takes a nap in Grand Central, and takes a trip to the zoo with Phoebe, where he finally finds a cautious optimism. Who wouldn't? Look at those koala faces.

Co.Design

Emoji Major No. 4: The (Character) Catcher In The Rye + Salinger's Story

This week, emoji master Zoe Mendelson greets the "goddamn" release of a big, juicy J.D. Salinger bio and film with cute and moody little Caulfields.

It never was "catch" a body in the rye. As little Phoebe Caulfield famously corrected Holden, it was “if a body meet a body, coming through the rye,” see:

Last week, David Shields and Shane Salerno published an unprecedented 720-page biography of J.D. Salinger, full of juicy revelations. Tomorrow, their decade-in-the-making documentary from the Weinstein Company comes out. They also announced that in 2015, posthumous Salinger works will be released according to a timeline supposedly crafted by the author.

When I heard this news I was stoked to see the film, and for new Salinger to read. But honestly, I was even more excited because, "for Chrissake," the whole package gave me an excuse to emojify The Catcher in the Rye. Nearly everything about it, starting with the ultimate moody adolescent protagonist, lends itself perfectly to the little yellow guys.

In light of current events, I added an intro with a short pre-Catcher history of Salinger. There's the Holden parallel chunk, where the non-fiction emoji character attends multiple schools (though sources diverge on whether or not Salinger was actually kicked out); the chapter where he goes and fights in WWII; and his return to New York, ending with him sitting down to write The Catcher in the Rye.

The first draft was a scene-by-scene replay of the entire book. But for fear of bleary eyes and that readers may wonder if I, like Holden, was writing from a booby hatch, I shortened it. The major scenes remain though--in the above slide show in three parts--as well as a few of my favorite details, like how Holden remembers that he met Jane Gallagher originally because her dog kept peeing on his lawn:

Again, limited emoji meant some were cast as multiple characters, so I included a key. Beware the mustached man. He's four "goddamn" different people.

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