J.D. Salinger was one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers. He was also one of its most elusive. After making his mark on the American literary scene, Salinger retreated to a small town in New Hampshire where he hoped to hide his life away from the world. With dogged determination, however, journalist and biographer Paul Alexander captured Salinger’s story in this, the only complete biography of Holden Caulfield’s creator published to date. Using the archives at Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, NYU and the New York Public Library as well as research in New York and New Hampshire, Alexander has created a great biography of Salinger that’s further enriched by interviews with some of the greatest literary figures of our time: George Plimpton, Gay Talese, Ian Hamilton, Harold Bloom, Roger Angell, A. Scott Berg, Robert Giroux, Ved Mehta, Gordon Lish and Tom Wolfe.
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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 SmithAbout the Author:
PAUL ALEXANDER is the author of many biographies, including Rough Magic, a biography of Sylvia Plath; Man of the People, a biography of John McCain; and Machiavelli's Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove. His nonfiction has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Nation, New York Magazine, and The Daily Beast.
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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 6333964
Book Description Renaissance Books, 2010. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "The most comprehensive biography to date has been Paul Alexander's 'Salinger' (1999).[it] is, to my mind, more dramatically vivid and psychologically astute." Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review , Feb. 13, 2011 "As good a biography of Salinger as we're likely to get for awhile. Alexander.[has] succeeded in placing Salinger in the context of his times, and in finding in the author's life seeds of inspiration for his fiction." Boston Globe "It is safe to say that Alexander will not be making any friends among the faithful by bringing us even closer to a man who wants to be known only as the creator of Holden Caulfield." New York Magazine "Alexander has drawn an eerie portrait of an increasingly eccentric writer whose attempts to maintain his privacy [are] actually.a manipulative way of promoting himself and his books." Library Journal "Alexander documents, among other things, Salinger's nervous breakdown after World War II; his hatred of New York publishers; his hatred of Hollywood; and his ugly divorce from Claire Douglas." Liz Smith "For hardcover fans, this biography is a must." Toronto Sun "Alexander's volume is a major publishing event.A skilled investigative reporter, journalist, and biographer, Alexander surveyed numerous archives.to get his 'story'.Strongly recommended." Choice. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0312673345
Book Description Renaissance Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0312673345 Brand new. Any book may show light shelf wear from warehouse storage and handling. Bookseller Inventory # SKU1003432
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Book Description Renaissance Books, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0312673345
Book Description Griffin, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 351 pages. 8.50x5.75x1.00 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 0312673345
Book Description Renaissance Books, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110312673345