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salinger

Sorry, Shane Salerno: ‘Salinger’ Is Just Bad Biography and Bad Documentary

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Over at Esquire, Salinger director Shane Salerno issued a jeremiad against his “critics.” Like the blowhard he so clearly is, he doesn’t actually cite or quote any of them. So let me do that for him. Complaints, like my own, chiefly focused on the fact that the documentary was so self-serious it verged on self-parody, and thus revealed very little of substance about Salinger.
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Why Joyce Maynard Is Right About J.D. Salinger

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Over the weekend, the New York Times ran an op-ed by the writer Joyce Maynard, she who is most famous for having lived with J.D. Salinger for a short period when she was in her late teens and he was… 53. I admit that I was on her side before even reading the first line of her editorial. I have what some might call a knee-jerk reaction to the kind of man who dates as far outside his age bracket as this. I cannot help but judge it. I actually think this is true of a lot of people, and that I am at most perhaps more honest about it than others. Other women, I mean.
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Brendan Jay Sullivan, Joyce Maynard, and the Proximity-to-Fame Memoir

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As long as there will be famous people, there will be non-celebrities who have stories to tell about them. This practice is fairly popular in book form, and there’s a certain undefined genre of memoirs written by writers who happened to interact with celebrities. Two very good examples are Joyce Maynard’s At Home in the World, the much-maligned 1998 book in which Maynard revealed her relationship with reclusive novelist J. D. Salinger (she was 18, he was 53), and Brendan Jay Sullivan’s Rivington Was Ours, which concerns the author’s friendship with the up-and-coming Lady Gaga when she was a performer on the Lower East Side in 2006. The two books are excellent case studies in how such a story should — and shouldn’t — be told, as well as the particularly unfair and misogynistic way critics and readers respond to these types of books.
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10 Notorious Pop Culture Recluses

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Salinger, the salacious, controversial, and come-to-find-out-maybe-not-that-good new J.D. Salinger documentary, is out today in limited release, casting a spotlight on America’s most notoriously reclusive novelist. And why, three years after his death and 60-plus years after the publication of his most enduring work, does he remain a figure of such fascination? Probably because he didn’t want to be. It’s the nature of American celebrity: once the public appetite is whetted, it can’t be satiated, and that goes double if you try to pull a disappearing act. After the jump, a look at some of the most famous — in spite of their wishes — recluses in pop culture history.
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Everything You Need To Know About the J.D. Salinger Documentary

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The only clear takeaway from Salinger is that he was totally right to get the hell out of Dodge. If this is what the bright hot sun of public attention yields, this mishmash of people who sorta kinda knew him making hyperbolic claims, I sympathize with his impulse to disappear. We are all better off living in dark little farmhouses than in movies that include, I kid you not, reenactments where hunky actors bearing very little resemblance to oneself carry heavy-looking logs up hills. Every once in a while Salinger seems to display some faint trace of self-awareness about its bombast — as when it interviews one nut who went to Salinger seeking spiritual guidance and was told the truth, i.e., “I’m a fiction writer, go back to your family.” But there is something at once lurid and way too innocent about this film, and its accompanying book.
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The Most Fascinating Quotes From J.D. Salinger’s Collected Correspondence

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J.D. Salinger might have tried his best to be a reclusive author, but that has never stopped the world at large from developing an endless fascination with him — his work, his personality, the minutiae of his days. This morning, news broke of a new set of letters from the writer, recently acquired by NYC’s Morgan Library & Museum. Though these letters are not available yet to the public, plenty are, and they’re filled with the daily mundanities and sharp insights that flesh out Jerry Salinger: the man. Check out a few fascinating passages from Salinger’s varied correspondence below.
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Listen to a Piano Duet Inspired by JD Salinger’s ‘Franny and Zooey’

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As we mentioned in our recent roundup of songs inspired by poets, literature has always been a major influence on music. But it isn’t every day that this relationship revolves around punctuation. Yet that really is the basis of “Franny (and Zooey) for Piano Duet,” a composition by Los Angeles-area multimedia artist Marya Alford that transposes the book’s commas, periods, quotation marks, etc. into musical notation. The resulting piece is minimal and plaintive and, as LA Weekly points out, doesn’t seem to have much in common with JD Salinger’s crisis-of-faith tales. Listen to a clip of the song after the jump, read more about the project and see the sheet music at Alford’s website, and, if you happen to be in Southern California, consider seeing “Franny (and Zooey)” performed live tonight, at the Women’s Twentieth Century Club of Eagle Rock.
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What If: Celebrities Tweet Salinger’s Death

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When J.D. Salinger died last week at the age of 91, the Twitter- and the literatti aligned to mourn the reclusive writer. Charles McGrath wrote a touching obit in the New York Times; Lillian Ross waxed poetic in The New Yorker and Bret Easton Ellis, tweeted, “Yeah!! Thank God he’s finally dead. I’ve been waiting for this day for-fucking-ever. Party tonight!!!” Ah, the Twitterverse, where Chilon of Sparta’s maxim “Don’t speak ill of the dead” doesn’t apply, as long as you can do it in under 140 characters. We turned to the Twitterverse to see how other luminaries, literary and decidedly unliterary, marked Salinger’s passing*.
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RIP: J.D. Salinger Dies at 91

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According to a statement by the reclusive author’s son, J.D. Salinger has died of natural causes at the age of 91 in New Hampshire. Best known for his 1951 classic, The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger introduced a new, mercurial voice into American writing, and with it, a teenage anti-hero who would become a role model for generations of misanthropes to come.

Salinger withdrew from public life in the ’50s, rejecting fame and refusing interviews. In 1999, a series of old letters between Salinger and fellow writer/one-time flame Joyce Maynard (who was an 18-year-old Yale University freshman at the time), were bought on the auction block by Peter Norton. He returned them to Salinger.
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