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Customer Review

45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tabloid Expose in Book Form (A True Shame), December 31, 1999
This review is from: Salinger: A Biography (Hardcover)
Paul Alexander, the author of this biography, may have a genuine admiration for J.D. Salinger, but he clearly has no true understanding of the man. This biographer's approach to Salinger's life more closely resembles a tabloid publication's expose of a pedophile priest. Aside from the differences that any group of people can have over the interpretation of any story, it seems apparent that Alexander has no clear understanding of the classic literature that Salinger loved. He lists the authors that Salinger admired, yet doesn't seem to have an awareness of the works and how they're integrated into many of Salinger's stories. The most horrifying revelation of this biography, for me, is the realization that many people especially this biographer have misinterpreted the story "Teddy." Salinger chooses his words and titles painstakingly carefully for a reason. Alexander's conclusions (as well as the public's), that Teddy kills his sister in the story, shows either his lack of awareness of what's going on or maybe he never read the story. Eventhough, the story "Teddy" was extremely successful, Salinger's disappointment to the public's reaction of the story is apparent in his story character's and alter ego, Buddy Glass', comments in "Seymour an Introduction," " ... few years ago, I published an exceptionally Haunting, Memorable, unpleasantly controversial, and thoroughly unsucessful short story about a 'gifted' little boy... " These comments alone shows Salinger's disappointment in the fact that "people just don't get it." Though, Salinger needs no defenders, I believe his fascination with young people (including and especially young women) manifests from a pure source. It is his awareness that people are most whole when they're young and not old. It is his awareness of the time in peoples lives before they accept the limits, lies, and illusions of huge institutions and the infuences of self motivated family members and friends. It is Salinger's awareness of a time when the joy of life exists in experiencing and not acquiring. This book has some interesting facts that many people may find engaging and interesting. It is an easy enough book to read and enjoy. However, the best thing you can do if you truly want to know J.D. Salinger is to just read the books he wrote. And if you want more.. Read the books Salinger read... Rilke, Shelley, Fitzgerald, Keats, etc.....
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