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With Love and Squalor: 13 Writers Respond to the Work of J.D. Salinger Paperback – October 16, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (October 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076790799X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767907996
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It was a pleasure to see a book published about J.D. Salinger's writing as opposed to a tell-all about the famous recluse. The editors sent the call out to young (or youngish) writers for their take on JDS.
Essays by Walter Kirn and Renee Steinke were delightful views of meeting up with Holden Caulfield from an entirely different background than the New York, prep, affluent Salinger character. Mr. Kirn hails from a small town in MN and thought of Holden as a dashing sophisticated fellow while Ms. Steinke is a preacher's daughter from Friendswood, TX and saw Holden as a fellow outsider. These were fond and enlightening essays that showed "Catcher in the Rye" was without boundaries.
Lucinda Rosenfeld's "The Trouble With Franny" takes an in-depth look at Franny Glass and how perceptions change when rereading as an adult. John McNally does an excellent job in discussing and illustrating the minor characters in JDS's work and how perfect the brevity and broad brush make even once-mentioned characters memorable. Co-editor Thomas Beller made me think about what it's like to live in "Salinger Weather," a closely reasoned, brilliant piece written with brio! Jane Mendelsohn has an achingly sensitive article, "Holden Caulfield: A Love Story," about how her first take on Holden was a romantic crush, but deepened into a bemused love as she gradually saw the tragedy and despair of Holden.
According to the Introduction, the writers were given carte blanche. Herein lies a problem. Some of the essayists took this to mean a great deal of talk about themselves with the merest nod to J. D. Salinger.
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Format: Paperback
How I wish this book had been around for the many years I taught "Catcher in the Rye" and "Franny & Zooey" to my high school students. I read half of "Love and Squalor" on my feet at a bookstore; I couldn't stop reading long enough to buy it until the place was closing -- 14 gifted writers responding to their experiences with not only "Catcher" but the whole scanty Salinger cannon. How I wish there had been 28! The writings range from the good to the extraordinary -- I particularly loved Charles D'Ambrosio's beautiful piece about suicide and "crappy, broken-down families" (and can that phrase please replace "dysfunctional"?), John McNally's insightful observations on the fabulous minor characters in "Catcher" and Karen E. Bender's lovely literary 'first kiss' with Holden. Best of all, the book has introduced me to these three wonderful writers, all of them new to me. After reading "Catcher" more than thirty times over the years, thank you all for making it new to me again.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since Salinger inspires a great deal of emotional connection with his readers, the idea of a collection of "responses" to Salinger from 14 writers is very promising. While a few of the essays are good (the ones by Beller -- one of the editors -- and McNally), the rest are angry, uninspired, and just wrong. Lucinda Rosenfeld's essay on "Franny" is full of factual errors (Salinger did not live in Vermont, the story does not take place in New Haven, etc.) that makes me wonder what sort of editing process was involved. Most of the other essays are about how Salinger didn't write the fiction the writer wanted to read which is a poor position to criticize from.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I've read about a writer. Each of the 14 articles gives us a different point of view on old J.D., and all of them come up with great insights.
My favorite is "Salinger and Sobs", written by Charles D'Ambrosio (we're sure going to hear this name a lot). This article is very sensitive and really touching. I think the guy understood Salinger - and Holden Caulfield - very deeply.
"The Salinger Weather", by Thomas Beller, is also fascinating. Take a look at this quote: "... there is the fear I have that if you're a Salinger fan, if you are living in the Salinger Weather, you can never have a relationship with another person. I mean a developed, adult, love-type relationship." He hit the mark! And that makes us think a lot.
Well, I had a lot of fun with "Good-bye, Holden Caulfield. I Mean It. Go! Go!", by Walter Kirn.
When it comes to the "with squalor" part of the book, Emma Forrest's piece is very charming. She says that Salinger quit publishing because he sort of knew he could not be one of the greatest world's writers, because he knew he was not so good as people would expect after "Catcher". That sounded like a challenge. And it is a shame that J.D. didn't take it on.
Anyway, if you're a Salinger freak, or if you just like a great reading, this book is indispensable.
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