J.D. Salinger

Meta-Reading: Literature Cameos in Film

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Books and movies are probably our two most favorite kinds of entertainment. Concerts are great, but you usually have to stand up the whole time, and well, you can listen to music while reading. At any rate, it turns out that the characters in some of our favorite films also dig books, and that makes us like them even more.  A character reading a book can either be a plot element, or character development, or a little joke, a secret between the director and those in the know, but it’s unlikely that it’s totally meaningless. After all, do you know how much money they spend on these things? Just saying. Click through for eight examples of great literature cameos in movies, and weigh in on your favorites.
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Letter: J.D. Salinger Rejects Film Adaptation of ‘Catcher in the Rye’

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We’ve always known that J.D. Salinger didn’t want film adaptations made of his books. But now we (sort of) know why. In a 1953 letter to aspiring filmmaker Hubert Cornfield, in response to inquiry about Catcher in the Rye, Salinger wrote, “I appreciate and respect your ardor, but for the present I see my novel as a novel and only as a novel.” The note is now up for sale at University Archives, for the low, low price of $22,500. We will say this: for a famously prickly and reclusive writer, it’s a very gracious rejection. Take a look after the jump.
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8 Authors You Must Read Before Starting College

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Yesterday, we pored over Slate staffers’ wonderful, diverse, and irreverent list of books they recommend students read before starting college in the fall. Their picks ranged from Saul Bellow to Joseph Mitchell to Zadie Smith… and an essential tome on how to brew your own beer. After adding some of their suggestions to our own to-read list, we got to thinking about the authors that you really need to read before you set off for college, that halfway house to adulthood — the writers whose work is too wide-eyed, precocious, idealistic, dramatic, drug-fueled, or otherwise youthful to fully appreciate once you’re holding down a 9-to-5 and paying rent. They aren’t necessarily “childish” writers but simply legends you might hate if you’ve never looked at them with a teenager’s eyes. We suggest that those of you with only a month left until you move into the dorms get started now.
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In Defense of Privacy: The 20th Century’s Most Reclusive Authors

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A few years back, when Denis Johnson refused to do press for his novel Tree of Smoke, which went on to win the National Book Award, it was considered newsworthy. (Note: He has since vowed “to learn how to interact with people.”) But in an age where widespread self-promotion (and in many cases, oversharing) is just 140 characters away, the idea of a reclusive author seems both counter-intuitive and strangely romantic. Inspired by Harper Lee’s recent chocolate-fueled assault by a British tabloid reporter, we decided to examine why a few authors of a certain age chose to shut themselves away from the media, and in some cases, from publication and society, as well.
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Required Reading: The 40 Books That Changed Susan Orlean’s World

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Yesterday Susan Orlean cataloged some of her all-time favorite books on Twitter using the hashtag #booksthatchangedmyworld, and it took off into a trending topic that still has major momentum. “At a moment when the publishing world is having profound self-esteem problems, when writers are worrying whether they need to learn programming code in order to keep pace with wherever it is that book publishing is going, it is marvelous to be reminded that it is still all about stories, and about feeling that something you read changed the way you look at life,” Orlean told The Book Bench. Click through for her full list of must-reads, and if you plan to get in on the action, be sure to tweet your selections @flavorpill.
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First Impressions: Our 30 Favorite Opening Lines in Literature

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The Millions recently posted the very Shteyngart-y opening passage of Gary Shteyngart’s forthcoming novel, Super Sad True Love Story.

“Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off.”

It got us thinking about our own favorite beginnings, both recent and classic. Below are some favorites from our bookshelf. Feel free to add your own picks in the comments section.

1. Slumberland by Paul Beatty

Best commentary on “post-blackness” considering Obama wasn’t even president when the book was written:

“You would think they’d be used to me by now. I mean don’t they know that after fourteen hundred years the charade of blackness is over? That we blacks, the once eternally hip, the people who were as right now as Greenwich Mean Time, are, as of today, as yesterday as stone tools, the velocipede, and the paper straw all rolled into one? The Negro is now officially human. Everyone, even the British, says so.”
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