Mark David Chapman's latest bid for parole in the 1980 slaying of John Lennon recalls one of the most bizarre incidents in American literary history. Chapman, who gunned down Lennon on New York's west side, said he was driven to the crime by reading J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" and was arrested after the shooting as he held the book.
Chapman, a former mental patient who had tried to legally change his name to Holden Caulfield, had penned "This is my statement" inside the book, Newsweek notes. He later explained in a handwritten letter to The New York Times that "this extraordinary book holds many answers" and that "all of my efforts will be devoted toward" getting people to read it.
"Catcher" is one of my favorite books, and of course, it's about as far from a shoot-'em-up as you could imagine. Holden is a typical disenchanted, overwhelmed, angst-ridden preppie. He hates the phonies around him and dreams of protecting the innocence he sees in kids. Wandering the streets of New York, he searches for the answers that teens have sought forever. How that relates to a violent murder is a mystery to me.
Chapman, who has been denied parole on several occasions, is scheduled to be interviewed by two members of New York's parole board during the week of August 9, according to news reports.