Sunshine and Suicide is a tentative title for a book I have recently completed. I remember reading The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in High School. Although, the book is a classic I wondered why it was controversial. A rich kid is kicked out of prep school and goes to New York City where he encounters alcohol and Jazz.
The Catcher in the Rye does have underlying as well as more overt references to sexuality. There are also some perhaps more controversial hints at homosexuality. I have little doubt these concepts and ideas were disturbing in 1951.
Yet, given the world we live in today The Catcher in the Rye is hardly radical. Holden Caulfield would be looked at as a goody-two-shoes compared to what teens are like today. Highballs have been replaced by drugs. Sex and sexual activities have become more common, obvious and overt. A punch to the nose has been replaced by a bullet to the head.
Sunshine and Suicide is about a young man living an ideal middle class life. In an instant that life falls apart. He soon falls into a world of sex, drugs and gun violence.
The Catcher in the Rye is a tale of a teen slowly loosing his innocence. Holden seems fascinated with children while fighting against the loss of his youth and innocence. In Sunshine and Suicide the loss of innocence is as slow as a run away train.
I’m not so arrogant as to compare Sunshine and Suicide to a classic like The Catcher in the Rye. I just want to point out that Sunshine and Suicide is also a coming of age tale. Yet, the main character is coming of age in a world of sex, drugs and violence.
Sunshine and Suicide is dark but at the same time it is not overly depressing. The book does contain humor and satire. I will leave it to readers to determine if there is a moral to be taken from it’s pages.
Writing a book about adolescence does bring back uncomfortable memories of my own childhood. Looking back and trying to remember a time when life had exaggerated importance is uncomfortable. Yet, at the same time seeing adolescence through the microscope of experience can be freeing as well. If only our children thought enough about our experiences to learn from them.
Given that I have just finished the first draft who knows when or if Sunshine and Suicide will be published. Yet, I wanted to write something about it before I forgot what I was feeling at the time. Writing as well as reading can be trans-formative and writing this book certainly had an impact on the author.