- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Renaissance Books; 1 edition (July 14, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1580631487
- ISBN-13: 978-1580631488
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,310,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Salinger: A Biography 1st Edition
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So averse to any kind of publicity that he went to court to prevent a previous biography, J.D. Salinger will undoubtedly be distressed by this book as well, especially since author Paul Alexander suggests that the writer's reclusiveness might be just a shrewd ploy to pique readers' interest and maintain good sales for his books. The Catcher in the Rye hardly needs that kind of help; the novel has been hugely popular since its initial release in 1951, though even then Salinger found the publication process distasteful. What made him abnormally sensitive to the stresses of public life? Readers won't find out here, although Alexander capably narrates the scant biographical material available: Salinger's birth in 1919; his aimless, academically underachieving youth; military service in some of World War II's grimmest battles; two failed marriages; self-exile from publishing at the height of his fame; the 1973 affair with teenage writer Joyce Maynard; and her arguably revengeful 1998 memoir. It would probably please Salinger that the psychological forces that power his creativity and eccentricity remain a mystery. Alexander notes the writer's near-exclusive focus on young people in his fiction, as well as the fact that Salinger's romantic relations have almost all been with very young women, but he can't really explain these facts. There just isn't enough information, although some enjoyably gossipy quotes from various interviews (ranging from usual literary suspects like George Plimpton to Salinger's former housekeeper) keep the book quite readable. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
This biography's dustjacket features a blurry photo of an aging J.D. Salinger superimposed on a picture of the young author of The Catcher in the Rye. While designed to capture the elusive quality of the notoriously reclusive writer, the jacket also reflects the book's fuzziness and skimpy feel. Although Alexander, who wrote a biography of Sylvia Plath, interviewed a number of people and used the research files of Ian Hamilton (In Search of J.D. Salinger) and the newly opened New Yorker archive at the New York Public Library, the result is primarily a cut-and-paste pastiche of secondary sources. This is not entirely Alexander's fault; like Hamilton, whose attempt to publish a biography was thwarted in the courts by Salinger, Alexander was unable to quote directly from Salinger's letters, and of course the man himself has long refused to be interviewed. Still, Alexander has drawn an eerie portrait of an increasingly eccentric writer whose attempts to maintain his privacy is actuallyAin Alexander's opinionAa manipulative way of promoting himself and his books.AWilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
battle of the bulge..he was a war hero in a Hemmingway style. reading this book is exciting.
Sadly, though, Alexander's tough assertions, which the reader encounters and completely digests by page 26, give way to tepid biography, made only more tepid by the fact that the same material had been handled much more deftly in Hamilton's previous, respectful book on Salinger. In short, there's little new information here. Alexander mentions newly opened archives from the New Yorker, but one begins to wonder how much new, quality material there actually was. And so, with little to draw upon, Alexander turns to sensationalism to see his book through.
Perhaps most disturbing is Alexander's shameless attempt to make a connection between Salinger's emphasis on young people in his fiction and a personal penchant for young girls. Alexander even goes so far as to link Salinger's name with Lewis Carroll. True, Salinger has dated younger women. But to link him with a literary figure whose name has become synonomous with pedophilia? This sort of stuff is more suited, say, for a daytime talk show.
We live in a tabloid world. It should come as little surprise that one writer's desire to live unmolested by the media--whether the motive is sincere or not--matters little. Salinger: A Biography will make the perfect holiday gift for those who like their biographies juicy!