Friday, September 27, 2013

Love and Squalor

Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about,” said Oscar Wilde, “and that is not being talked about.” It would be an unusual writer who didn’t find that paradox amusingly true. J. D. Salinger, who was an unusual man all round, wouldn’t have found it funny at all. For him, nothing was worse than being talked about. After the success of The Catcher in the Rye, his first and only novel, Salinger turned himself into the most famous recluse in the world. Holed up in his cabin in Cornish, New Hampshire, he issued a trickle of increasingly sterile short stories. Finally he fell silent altogether. When he died in 2010, at the age of 91, he hadn’t published a word in forty-five years. 

As long as he remained alive, Salinger made things notoriously hard for would-be biographers. Since his death, the floodgates have opened ... [read more]