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Dream Catcher: A Memoir Paperback – October 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671042823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671042820
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In her memoir Dream Catcher, Margaret Salinger--who is, as everyone and their cat must surely now know, the daughter of writer and recluse J.D. Salinger--describes a childhood of unbelievable isolation and emotional stress, "lush with make-believe," "a world both terrible and beautiful ... that dangled between dream and nightmare on a gossamer thread." What she's describing, of course, is madness, first incipient and then in hothouse cultivation. In fact, just reading about it made this reviewer feel like her f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s were not quite intact. What was it like to grow up with a father whose love for children amounted almost to a religion? Well, for one thing, there were always those impossibly swell fictional kids around to make you look bad. (J.D. actually wanted to call his daughter Phoebe, after the sister in The Catcher in the Rye.) Worse, though, it meant being forced to sacrifice her childhood on the altar of Daddy's saintliness. She quotes the famous paragraph in which Holden envisions standing guard to catch little children from going over a cliff. "When I read this passage as an adult with a child of my own, my first reaction was outrage.... Where are the grown-ups? Why are those kids allowed to play so close to the edge of a cliff?" Salinger's reaction might be literal-minded, but it contains considerable truth--especially considering that she herself went over that cliff once or twice, and ol' J.D. certainly wasn't around to catch anybody.

When it comes to the ethics of writing a book about the experience, of course, friends must agree to let friends disagree. No one can deny that Salinger's account is balanced, thorough, and honest--sometimes to a fault. Moreoever, it's clear that Peggy Salinger is an admirable person, who has fought long and hard to attain the level of happiness and understanding that made the writing of this memoir possible. And yet, there's also no denying that her book cries out for a strong editing hand. Reading it feels like watching someone sort out complicated feelings in front of you: compelling, certainly, but also a little voyeuristic, and more than occasionally digressive. Salinger's analysis of her father seems psychologically (and literarily) acute, but--urine-drinking aside--there's nothing she tells us about his character that a diligent reader of his books doesn't instinctively know. "Get what you can from his writing, his stories," Salinger writes, "but the author himself will not appear out of nowhere to catch those kids if they get too close to that crazy cliff." Did anyone think he would? Dream Catcher is written by the only person who had the right to expect such a thing. Sadly, his fictional creations, those wise children, were given his best self, and his daughter was left with the rest. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

And J. D.'s daughter demands her 15 minutes. Bonnie Smothers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Margaret A. Salinger earned her B.A. from Brandeis University summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa; earned an M.Phil. from Oxford University; and attended Harvard Divinity School as a Williams Scholar. She lives with her husband and son.

Customer Reviews

I just started this book, so far it is a good book, keeps me wanting to read more.
Kathryn Romero
Make no mistake, this is just barely a memoir of growing up with JD Salinger, he really doesn't figure strongly in this book.
Ravenous Reader
This account of a life with the towering reclusive figure of J.D Salinger is a supurb work!
jeff errington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By James J. Lundy Jr. on November 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book to learn more about one of my favorite authors, JDS, and the book starts out like a biography of the man, sure enough. It's even a bit overly scholarly at first (footnotes, analysis of Jewish life in America, etc.) and I thought it was going to turn into a tedious read... But the book changes form several times as Peggy excorcises her demons and finds new reasons to keep writing it. You might have heard some of the debate of the ethics of writing this book while her old man is still alive. But, ultimately this book is about Peggy Salinger and not about JD. She is a troubled, deeply scarred woman who finally makes peace with herself and her father through the writing of this book, and that cathartic process unfolds beautifully as you read.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By 11111 on January 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Of course you read this book because you're interested in learning more about JD Salinger, not Margaret Salinger. But the book is HER memoir after all, so you hear a lot about her and other people who aren't JD Salinger. Some of it is really interesting..you'd probably like it if you like reading about growing-up (I assume you do, since you're a fan of Salinger). You hear about how she and her friends transistion from catching bugs and watching old films with her dad to wearing make-up, and going to dances, and listening to The Beatles and all of that good sutff. But some things are pretty uninteresting, too. Dream Catcher is odd, because the author's writing style changes frequently.

Sometimes it's incredibly flower and unnessecarily wordy and downright dumb (she spends a whole page talking about her favorite lifesaver flavors and things) and it can be really irritating. Then it will suddenly switch to a very bare and personal style. It almost felt like reading "The Catcher in the Rye" at times. There are also many, many random quotations (from "alice in wonderland", ancient poetry, ect) all over the book. At chapter heads, foot notes (of which there are nearly 2 every page, and generally very unnessecary information.), and in the text itself.

But what you'll learn about JD Salinger is pretty key. She definitley has a fresh perspective on the whole deal. She talks about how her father told her the same thing that Zooey tells Franny ("There's no major changes between 10 and 20, or 10 and 80, for that matter."), and it ends up with her being molested by a college student when she was around 10. She thought of him as her "boyfriend" because she wasn't taught that there's a big difference between fooling around with boys her age and much older boys.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Eric Krupin on December 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
The real proof of this book's quality is that it would still be an absorbing and uncommonly well-written memoir of a seriously screwed-up childhood even if no one had ever heard of J.D. Salinger. Of course, it would never have been published either, so let's get down to brass tacks. As an "expose" of The Creep Behind The Artist, the prosecution is scattershot (there's a wearisomely prolonged and ultimately unconvincing effort to define him as an actual cult leader of sorts) but eventually sways the jury. And unlike the unsympathetic Joyce Maynard, who managed to cash in with her story first, Margaret Salinger seems to me fully entitled to whatever degree of payback this book represents. (It's not a hatchet job but she's not afraid to let hard-earned bitterness show at times.) When, as a teenager, she finally begins to see his toxicity as a parent and writes in her diary, ...it's a real stand-up-and-cheer moment.
However, it must be acknowledged that the book is in desperate need of strong editing. The indiscriminate inclusiveness (i.e. the complete text of notes passed in junior high school) and irritatingly pointless footnotes (i.e. explaining where the chapter heading "To Sir With Love" comes from) are unfortunate deterrents to appreciating this book on its considerable merits.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is unlike any "memoir" I've ever read. Margaret Salinger has included so much information here, historical, personal, and literary, it may be more than the average "kiss and tell" reader can fathom. The serious reader won't be disappointed. Margaret gives a bittersweet, yet balanced account of her childhood. Her childhood accounts show a real memory for the details, sounds, smells, and especially the visual beauty of life in the woods. She frames her father's development as a writer and links his work to events in his life. She has researched and explained her father's discomfort with his Jewish heritage .She frames it in the context of America anti-Semitism in the first half of this century. She tells of his restless search for transcendence from the pain of life with a series of fads. He eventually settles on a hodge-podge of Zen and Christian Science. All of life is fiction. (Except his needs!) Given the lengths to which her father's more unbalanced admirer's will go, she very wisely avoids discussing her current partner and lifestyle. It's clear she has discovered the happiness of the small things in life and is the kind of chaplain I would like to have. She's self-effacing and a real straight shooter. This honesty probably has cost her, but after her illnesses, her emotional needs, and finally, she herself became just another "illusion," she had lost her father long ago.
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