I read every book J.D. Salinger ever wrote.
This was, of course, due to The Catcher in the Rye.
If my memory serves me, it was the first book I ever enjoyed reading.
The first book that ever made me laugh.
[what a concept!]
And so I made it through the other three books published during the author’s lifetime.
None of them made the same impression upon me as had Catcher, yet I knew this was a special, special writer.
One story did, however, stick with me for unrelated reasons.
That story was “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”.
And the connection was Richard Manuel (of The Band)…who died in a similar way (and in Florida, near enough in my mind…city notwithstanding) to the protagonist of that haunting little tale.
But I am not obsessed with J.D. Salinger.
Indeed, I had not given thought to him in quite some time.
His writing affected me deeply, but it was not the kind of stuff that I wished to revisit.
Once was enough.
Perhaps his greatest work…was his strange, mysterious life.
THAT is what fascinated me!
Long after the books ended.
In my literary pantheon, there is one very small category which holds but two authors: Salinger and Pynchon.
And so, in the final estimation, Salinger was the consummate artist.
A genius of public relations as much as a weaver of phrases.
Well, dear friends…if you relate to any of the above, then you absolutely must see the documentary Salinger.
What is particularly fascinating is that our author was in counterintelligence.
Yes, by this I mean to infer that Salinger’s self-imposed exile was very much a calculated move from the mind of a trained spook (for lack of a better word).
But there’s more to the story…
Salinger likewise was a soldier.
World War II.
From D-Day through V-E Day.
299 days (as director Shane Salerno makes wonderfully clear).
But if this has not piqued your curiosity about this mammoth of 20th-century literature, consider the pithy, icy story of how Salinger was jilted, while at war (!), to the benefit of an Englishman [wait for it] living in America…
Yes, his girlfriend married Charlie Chaplin.
While J.D. was seeing men die in France and Germany to push back and defeat the Nazis.
And the cherry on top of that bitter sundae?
His erstwhile girlfriend was the daughter of America’s only Nobel-prize-winning dramatist: Eugene O’Neill.
This is the kind of stuff any documentarian would drool over.
But likewise, portraying the delicate enigma of Salinger is a task which could have resulted in crumbling failure with any faux pas (in its literal sense).
Shane Salerno (any relation to Nadja…Sonnenberg?) crafted a thoroughly engrossing document of Salinger’s richly-fabriced life.
But the coup comes at the end (and it is not too much of a spoiler to reveal this).
Salinger appears to be the primary source (if Wikipedia is to be even marginally trusted) concerning the forthcoming publication of Salinger’s fruits of reclusion.
We have a timetable: 2015-2020.
40% has come and gone.
You know, I never thought I’d live to see the day when a “new” Salinger book hit the shelves.
And I won’t believe it till I see it.
But one thing is for sure: I’m buying.
Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Salinger.
He passed away in 2010.
What a special gift he had!
What joy he shared with the world!!
It was the real thing.
The masses, after all, CAN (in the final estimation) tell the difference between shit and Shinola.
And to all the critics who ever panned J.D. out of jealousy, a big “Fuck you” is in order.
One more thing…
This review is dedicated to all those who travelled up to Cornish, New Hampshire hoping to catch a glimpse of the man…
All those who left a note…
All those whose pleas fell on deaf ears…
I know your dedication.
My hero is Jean-Luc Godard.
I know letters.
I know the long-distance call.
My Cornish, New Hampshire just happens to be Rolle, Switzerland.
But I know.
And I want to make this very clear.
You are not dupes.
You had the open hearts to dream.
And you let an author into your lives.
Perhaps J.D. Salinger was incapable of expressing his gratitude for all of you.
Perhaps out of some kind of self-hate.
But I’m bold enough to speak for the man.
He loves you.
Else, he never would have given you Holden in the first place.