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If You Really Want to Hear About It: Writers on J.D. Salinger and His Work Paperback – June 13, 2006


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If You Really Want to Hear About It: Writers on J.D. Salinger and His Work + Salinger: The Classic Critical and Personal Portrait + Dream Catcher: A Memoir
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press (June 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560258802
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560258803
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,627,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The twelth of thirteen children from San Francisco, Catherine Crawford's upbringing in no way resembled that of Franny Glass. She works as a literary agent and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two-year-old daughter.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on December 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I can't say I'm a big JD Salinger fan - I always thought THE CATCHER IN THE RYE was a great, even must-read book, but only before the age of 17, after which it loses it's power to inspire and even entertain, and that the Glass stories were just a bit too pretentious. But I must admit after reading this anthology of essays, reviews, and personal memoirs (usually recounting attempts at meeting the hermit-like Salinger in person) I care even less for the writing and almost nothing for the man. The harshest critics here - Jonathan Yardley, Mary McCarthy, Louis Menand - seem to be right on target: it's just possible that the author who made his chief characters rail so much against "phoniness" might be the biggest phony of all. Salinger comes across as a possibly sexually perverted, definitely dictatorial, self-centered monster who is apparently lost in a make-believe world of 1940s movies and a daily writing regimen that might be producing numerous literary works for future generations of readers to ponder - or might be producing nothing at all. Alex Beam makes a good case that even Salinger's reclusion and maniacal desire to protect his privacy might be all a ploy to make sure he's never forgotten: when he's out of the news for a while he suddenly resurfaces, usually with outrage that once again his privacy has been violated. Beam calls him a "master showman, a genius spin doctor, a public relations wizard." Two people who knew him well - his daughter Margaret Salinger and his lover for a year Joyce Maynard - write about the man in totally unflattering terms. There are 29 selections included in this anthology and they span the gamut from fanatical worshipping to clear-headed debunking. My major complaint is with the extraordinary number of typos in the text: it's embarrassing and gives the whole book a feeling of being a throw-off not to be taken seriously. Other than that, it's a pretty interesting compilation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Brown on December 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Although there have been at least two other books offering selected articles on Salinger's work, this is the most comprehensive, wide-ranging and up-to-date by far. Editor Crawford casts a wide net, including critical analyses, memoirs, book reviews, interviews, and other material related to the author both as a writer and as a person. Even the internet was investigated, and it is good to see a long excerpt (updated) from Sarah Morrill's unique web site. The book covers the period from the early 1950s to the early 2000s. All Salinger fans must own this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Blake on November 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a charming and amazingly well done book. A must read for both hardcore Salinger fans and anyone who ever had their life transformed after reading Catcher in the Rye in 8th grade. If you've ever been curious about the famously reclusive man behind some of your favorite stories, this book offers the most entertaining insights out there as far as I can tell. Great, great stuff. Not phony at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Call on February 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
While browsing in the literary criticism section of a local Borders bookstore about two years ago, I noticed this book with its "Catcher"-red cover, and having had an interest in Salinger since I read his war stories several years ago, I thought it might be worth reading. It was -- but it also turned out to be little more than an updated version of Grunwald's 1962 SALINGER: A CRITICAL and PERSONAL PORTRAIT, a collection of essays devoted to the life and works of JD Salinger. Indeed, Crawford's collection contains some of the same essays that are found in Grunwald's, such as Mary McCarthy's "JD Salinger's Closed Circuit"; but it also contains some interesting additions: Michiko Kakutani's "From Salinger, a New Dash of Mystery"; Alex Beam's "JD Salinger, Failed Recluse"; and Joanna Smith Rakoff's "My Salinger Year."

McCarthy's essay addresses the narcissistic quality of Salinger's Glass fiction, arguing that the Glass kids are all reflections of Salinger. I think her argument is compelling; as you read the Glass stories and compare their characters' concerns and crises to what is known about Salinger (his desire for privacy; his opinions of intellectual pursuits; his ambivalence toward fame and fortune; his devotion to the Buddhist tenet of eradicating Ego: all of which can be found in the biographies about him), you get the very strong impression that his Glass fiction is a mirror that reflects his own personal concerns and crises. The article by Kakutani is a review she wrote in 1997 in light of the rumored publication in book form of "Hapworth 16, 1924," Salinger's last published work of fiction that appeared in The New Yorker in 1965.
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