Thinking of Holden Caulfield and moonshine while in West Virginia

Thinking of Holden Caufield while in West Virginia

For once in a really long while, I had the opportunity to not think about work. Work stayed clearly out of my consciousness other than the fact that I thought about how I wasn’t thinking about it.  For this long weekend I made my way down to West Virginia. Yes, I know for many people this would not be the first place they think of when they think work reprieve and relaxation.  However, I needed to get West Virginia off my list of states to spend a good chunk of time in within the US.  Thus, off we went.

I am a die-hard New Yorker. As you can imagine New Yorkers hold a lot of stereotypes (as do most American) about West Virginia.   West Virginia, is after all, the home to the MothMan festival based on the Mothman events of several decades back. If you want a primer on it catch the Mothman Prophecy featuring Richard Gere. There is also the issue of the vast number of UFO sightings in West Virginia.

I often think of Holden Caulfield (from Catcher in the Rye) when I am thinking of literary characters that have had an impact on my life.  He taught me to spot the phonies and the posers. I do not share his sense of utter disdain for everything though. I could imagine his upturned nose at the thought of going to West Virginia. Although, he may very well have been intrigued by the wacky, “supernatural” history of the state. As far as I can tell thus far, people are really friendly in West Virginia which would probably shock Holden a bit after which he would start wondering what was the angle.

In looking into the history of West Virginia, you come across the Author Pearl S. Buck who wrote the book called The Good Earth in 1931 and was then awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1932.  She advocated greatly for the adoption of mixed-raced children. The book served to “humanize” the Chinese people to Americans; fast-forward to 2004 when Oprah chose the book for her club. That book-club designation alone would turn off Holden Caulfield, for sure who was highly big on cynicism. Anyway, my mind is overactive today as I imagine a conversation between Holden and Pearl. What an odd conversation that would be considering his high level of cynicism and her desires to do advocacy through writing novels.

This overactive imagination of mine today is the result of not having to worry about work at all this weekend. I am free to think of silly, imaginary conversations. I believe I will head off soon and get some moonshine. Let’s see what conversations I imagine then

11 replies »

  1. Enjoy West Virginia! I found it quite beautiful. Unfortunately, my visit was only on my way through to Virginia Beach, but both my husband and myself agreed we want a return trip to West Virginia. He, in search of some good fishing. Me, in search of some of nature’s beauty while hiking and black bear spotting. Have fun!


  2. Howdy, Mimi! I hope you’re enjoying your visit to my home state. Oh, those WV stereotypes! Living in the Eastern Panhandle, less than an hour away from Washington DC, always made me wonder why those generalizations existed. Then, I visited other parts of our gorgeous state and realized that it was a different world from my area. Economic isolation, generational poverty, and a limited gene pool unfortunately does seem to be prevalent in some areas. Overall, the people are very nice, but in many ways they’re doomed to continue the stereotypes.
    Where are you visiting?


  3. “start wondering what was the angle” indeed. When we moved here to Large Southern City from New Jersey many years ago, we were hit with so much “hey how y’all doin’?” and “how you folks doin’ today?” everywhere we turned, and our immediate response was always “Why?” We frightened and confused a lot of people who were just trying to be nice. We’re better now.
    I had a very good pizza in Wheeling WVa about 30 years ago. That’s all I remember about the place, but at least it’s a good memory 🙂


  4. My boss is taking a week’s vacation to Charleston.
    “West Virginia?” I ask.
    “No way. Charleston, South Carolina. Who vacations in West Virginia?” she asks incredulously.


  5. That’s a nice imaginary meeting – Holden had a huge impact on me as a boy, but I’ve never actually read any Pearl Buck. I guess she’s out of fahion today, but your post has reminded me that I have on my ‘to read’ list. Thanks!


  6. I am always amazed how different one state is from another, and in so many different aspects. I have traveled across many parts of the US and more times than not knew when I was crossing a state line just from the way the highway or scenery or sky or whatever felt different. In the immortal words of Yakov Smirnoff “America – What A Country!” I must say I didn’t feel the same when I traveled through Europe, but that was a long time ago.


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