Tuesday, January 25, 2011

J. D. Salinger: A Life

     It hardly seems that a year has past since J. D. Salinger departed this life. Since his passing, inevitably, authors have taken the time to analyze, research and write about him. Currently, a book is being released called, aptly, J. D. Salinger: A Life. Author Kenneth Slawenski lives in New Jersey. He has been researching J.D. Salinger: A Life for the past eight years. NPR's Maureen Corrigan reviews the new book with her usual candor and delightful insights.There is not much I can add to her review other than this: Is this book completely factual? I'm not saying the author deliberately made up observations about Salinger. What I am saying is that no one can truly understand and know what a person's life was except for that person. Salinger chose to keep to himself as much as he could considering the fame which followed his novel The Catcher In The Rye.  As a result, he left himself open to conjecture and rumors. One could only understand him through his writing and personal observation. This biographer also researched the records of Salinger's family in order to weave in the pertinent facts about Salinger's past.
     I, for one, would have loved to read a Salinger autobiography. Much like Mark Twain, Salinger could have written a personal account of his life only to have it published posthumously. That way, Salinger could have been open and forthright in his writing without worrying about who it might offend. Only then, could we  see into the mind that is J. D. Salinger. Alas, it was not to be. We must be content with a third-person account of Salinger. It is written by a skillful and well researched author. However, he had never met the subject of his book. He can only do so much to see into J.D. Salinger, the man. Nonetheless, it offers something for those hungry for any insights into the life of Salinger. He was an enigma as much as he was a master story teller.


Dave said...

I agree. I prefer autobiographies instead of biographies. Of course, like this, sometimes that is impossible.

Allison said...

I definitely agree with with you about a Salinger autobiography!