September 07, 2005

My First Salinger-Van Halen Post

A Design head pays tribute to the power of the iconic maroon Catcher in the Rye cover.

Somewhere along the way (Was it the mid-sixties? My attempts to find a chronology have been unavailing), Catcher acquired the cover it bore when I checked it out for the first time. Iíve heard rumors, but have not yet found any proof, that Salinger so hated the earlier illustrations that he insisted that the covers of all his books be type-only.
The way I heard it was that Salinger himself proposed what he considered to be a self-evidently awful design scheme as a sort of test to see if Bantam would truly respect his wishes, as he felt no other publisher had done. They went for it, and he knew they were the ones for him. (It kind of reminds me of the infamous Van Halen brown M & M-less rider: the absence of brown M & Ms was allegedly to be taken as a sign that the promoter had actually read and followed the rest of the gazillion-page rider.) I can find no reference for this, though, so it may be no more than folklore.

(Thanks, Armst.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at September 7, 2005 06:39 PM | TrackBack

The brown m&m deal is true. I'll try to find the interview where "Diamond" Dave addresses the issue. If you want to beat me to it, since I'm still at work, I'm pretty sure it's buried at

Posted by: Tim at September 7, 2005 11:59 PM

How much more maroon could it be? And the answer is, "None. None more maroon."

Posted by: Nick at September 8, 2005 03:10 AM

This reminds me of something my Mother once told me: Always judge a book by its cover.

Posted by: Andy at September 8, 2005 10:46 PM

Here's a link proving that the Van Halen brown M&M's was not an Urban Legend...

It's backed with quotes from Roth, but also speaks of the exagerations to the story.

Posted by: christopher at September 9, 2005 01:01 AM

I have an edition with the picture cover around here someplace. Freaked me out when I first saw it.

Posted by: Jason Toon at September 9, 2005 06:19 PM

PS. It's this one:
Not only is the picture pretty bad, but what's up with that florid cover copy?

Posted by: Jason Toon at September 9, 2005 06:22 PM

Thanks for the timely link, my good Doktor!

Posted by: Uri at September 15, 2005 11:22 PM

regarding that cover, shouldn't salinger have said " i didn't give a damn how i(t) looked".

Posted by: walmart greeter at September 25, 2005 06:17 PM