J. D. Salinger
By Kenneth Slawenski
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812982596, 464pp.)
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
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One of the most popular and mysterious figures in American literary history, the author of the classic Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger eluded fans and journalists for most of his life. Now he is the subject of this definitive biography, which is filled with new information and revelations garnered from countless interviews, letters, and public records. Kenneth Slawenski explores Salinger’s privileged youth, long obscured by misrepresentation and rumor, revealing the brilliant, sarcastic, vulnerable son of a disapproving father and doting mother. Here too are accounts of Salinger’s first broken heart—after Eugene O’Neill’s daughter, Oona, left him—and the devastating World War II service that haunted him forever. J. D. Salinger features all the dazzle of this author’s early writing successes, his dramatic encounters with luminaries from Ernest Hemingway to Elia Kazan, his office intrigues with famous New Yorker editors and writers, and the stunning triumph of The Catcher in the Rye, which would both make him world-famous and hasten his retreat into the hills of New Hampshire. J. D. Salinger is this unique author’s unforgettable story in full—one that no lover of literature can afford to miss.
Kenneth Slawenski is the creator of DeadCaulfields.com, a website founded in 2004 and recommended by The New York Times. He has been working on this biography for eight years. Slawenski was born in New Jersey, and has lived there all his life.
J.D Salinger died a year ago this Thursday, and in time for that anniversary, there's a newly published biography called, simply, J.D. Salinger: A Life. Book critic Maureen Corrigan says readers who revere Salinger will find a lot that's surprising in his early background. More at NPR.org
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“Startling . . . insightful . . . [a] terrific literary biography.”—USA Today
“It is unlikely that any author will do a better job than Mr. Slawenski capturing the glory of Salinger’s life.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Slawenski fills in a great deal and connects the dots assiduously; it’s unlikely that any future writer will uncover much more about Salinger than he has done.”—Boston Sunday Globe
“Offers perhaps the best chance we have to get behind the myth and find the man.”—Detroit Free Press
“[Slawenski has] greatly fleshed out and pinned down an elusive story with precision and grace.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Earnest, sympathetic and perceptive . . . [Slawenski] does an evocative job of tracing the evolution of Salinger’s work and thinking.”—The New York Times