J.D. Salinger hasn't published a word of fiction since 1965, and his silence casts a shadow over With Love and Squalor
, a collection featuring 14 contemporary writers riffing on the works of the famously reclusive author. Unlike several less-than-flattering accounts of Salinger's life published in recent years, this book is more about the writing than the writer. John McNally spends some time with The Catcher in the Rye
's memorable minor characters in "The Boy That Had Created the Disturbance," while in "An Unexamined Life," Benjamin Anastas is inspired to reread Salinger after being branded as Salingeresque in the jacket blurbs of his own first novel. In "The Salinger Weather," coeditor Thomas Beller confronts a Salinger-reading stranger on the subway and experiences a "random city bonding moment." A real standout, though, is Aimee Bender's "Holden Schmolden." She wonderfully captures that moment of first discovering Catcher
Reading it made me realize that even though he had been discovered ad nauseam by the world, one of the magical feelings about reading J.D. Salinger was that you, yourself, felt like you were discovering this writer for the first time and had made him yours in the discovery. Salinger invites possessiveness, in the best way.
Salinger fans should appreciate this uneven tribute album, even though there are a few tracks worth skipping. --Brad Thomas Parsons
From Publishers Weekly
Fourteen writers reflect on the impact of J.D. Salinger's oeuvre on their lives and work in With Love and Squalor, edited by literary agent Kip Kotzen and Open City founding editor Thomas Beller (The Sleepover Artist). Walter Kirn recalls having Catcher in the Rye snatched from his hands and hurled across the college dining hall immediately after John Lennon's murder by Mark David Chapman; Chapman believed the book gave him permission for the killing. Emma Forrest describes her effort to become the kind of young person " `invented' in the fifties by the two J.D.s Salinger and James Dean" in order to deliver the goods to her newspaper editor. Lucinda Rosenfeld weighs Franny and Zooey's unimpressive rebellions against what she sees as the nearly perfect prose of their eponymous book.
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