Sunday, August 25, 2013



“An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's.”

J.D. Salinger

His alienation from the world and his mania for privacy became part of the Salinger myth — a myth that David Shields and Shane Salerno attempt to pierce in their revealing but often slapdash new book, “Salinger.”

Salinger stopped publishing decades ago (his last story to appear in print, “Hapworth 16, 1924,” came out in the June 19, 1965, issue of The New Yorker), but, by some reports, he continued to write nearly every day.

In “Salinger,” Mr. Salerno and Mr. Shields assert that Salinger, who died in January 2010 at 91, left instructions “authorizing a specific timetable” (starting between 2015 and 2020) for the release of unpublished work, including five new Glass family stories; a novel based on his relationship with his first wife, Sylvia Welter, a German he married shortly after World War II; a novella in the form of a counterintelligence officer’s diary entries during the war; a story-filled “manual” about the Vedanta religious philosophy; and new or retooled stories fleshing out the story of Holden Caulfield, known to generations of readers from “The Catcher in the Rye,” the novel that made its creator famous in 1951 as the voice of adolescent angst. The authors of “Salinger” attribute details of these plans to two anonymous sources described as “independent and separate.”

From Hunting Again for Salinger Within the Silences and Secrets by By MICHIKO KAKUTANI/August 25, 2013/


Was it courage or common sense that caused him to go into seclusion?

 Maybe he believed that it wasn’t anyone’s damn business to know what he was doing, or what he was writing.

 Maybe he got a secret satisfaction knowing that the world wouldn’t know what he was up to until years after he was interred.


I wondered what he was up to, and I always felt that he was writing all of the time that he was living in solitude.

  When you think about it, his was a feat worthy of praise, this choice to live outside of the prying and reading eyes of the watchful world.

 Compare Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, and Norman Mailer to J.D. Salinger.

What a difference!


Vidal, Mailer, and Capote liked to talk in public, raise their flags, wash each other’s underwear, and spank one another’s bottom before the camera eye.

It will be interesting to finally find out what Mr. Salinger was up to for almost fifty years.

Or perhaps the mystery of J.D. Salinger will remain interred with his bones.

I hope not.



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