Category Archives: Biographies

Books about Salinger’s life and relationships

At Home in the World, a memoir by Joyce Maynard

MLA Citation:

Maynard, Joyce. At Home in the World. New York: Picador, 1998. Print.

Jacket Copy:

“The daughter of brilliant and complicated parents-an adoring alcoholic artist for a father and a dazzling, funny, and wildly frustrating mother, driven to see her daughters achieve what had never been possible for herself-Joyce Maynard grew up with a pen in her hand, writing and publishing stories before she reached her teens.

In the spring of 1972, when she was a freshman at Yale, Maynard wrote a cover story for The New York Times Magazine about life as a young person in the sixties.  Among the hundreds of letters she received in response was one from the famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger.  They embarked on a correspondence.  Within months she had left college and moved in with him-believing, despite their thirty-five-year age difference, that she had found her soulmate and that they would be together always.

Shortly before the publication of Looking Back, the book she wrote over the course of her time with him, Salinger sent Maynard away-an event so devastating that she herself retreated from the world for two years in a New Hampshire farmhouse.

At Home in the World explores the story of Maynard’s family, her relationship with Salinger, and the way the legendary writer’s influence, along with that of her parents, reverberated through her life in the decades that followed.  In these pages, she chronicles her painful reentry into the world, her development as a writer, her marriage, her struggle to become a healthy parent to her own children, the death of her parents, and the years, following the end of her marriage, when she set out to rebuild her life.

A crucial turning point in Maynard’s story occurred when her own daughter turned eighteen-the age Maynard herself was when Salinger first approached her.  Compelled to achieve a greater level of understanding, Maynard made the decision to break her twenty-five year silence about what had taken place with Salinger.

At Home in the World is at once both a tale of an extraordinary and unique experience, and a universal story about coming of age, the experience of loss and confusion, and the struggle to become whole.  In these pages, Maynard confronts with unblinking honesty, compassion and surprising humor the most painful truths of her experience.  But ultimately, hers is not a story of devastation or regret.  At Home in the World is about redemption and triumph, and the wisdom acquired when at long last a woman embraces the disquieting truths of her history.”

If You Really Want to Hear About It: Writers on J.D. Salinger and His Work edited by Catherine Crawford

MLA Citation:

Crawford, Catherine. If You Really Want to Hear About It: Writers on J.D. Salinger and His Work. New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 2006. Print.

Jacket Copy:

“Famously reclusive and yet an undying source of inspiration for generations of readers, Salinger is one of the greatest mysteries of American literature.  This is the first comprehensive collection of writings about J.D. Salinger and his work, an amalgam of over fifty years’ worth of attempted interviews, documented sightings, unauthorized profiles, and stifled cries of devotion, as well as the best of the book reviews.

Includes a never-before-published retrospective by Joyce Maynard, whose 1997 memoir, which documented her year-long affair with J.D. Salinger when she was sixteen years old, caused a rupture in the literary establishment.”

Contents:

Part I:  In Search of Salinger

Shirlie Blaney:  Interview with J.D. Salinger
Ernest Havemann:  The Search for the Mysterious J.D. Salinger
Betty Eppes:  What I Did Last Summer
Lacey Fosburgh:  J.D. Salinger Speaks About His Silence
Michael Clarkson:  Catching the “Catcher in the Rye” J. D. Salinger
Ron Rosenbaum:  The Catcher in the Driveway

Part II:  Critics and Cranks

Eudora Welty:  Threads of Innocence
Arthur Mizener:  The Love Song of J.D. Salinger
Alfred Kazin:  J.D. Salinger:  “Everybody’s Favorite”
John Updike:  Anxious Days for the Glass Family
Mary McCarthy:  J.D. Salinger’s Closed Circiut
Arnold Lubasch:  Salinger Biography is Blocked
Mordecai Richler:  Summer Reading; Rises at Dawn, Writes, Then Retires
Michiko Kakutani:  From Salinger, a New Dash of Mystery
Jonathan Yardley:  J. D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, Aging Gracelessly

Part III:  Deconstructing Jerry

Sarah Morrill:  A Brief Biography of J.D. Salinger
Paul Alexander:  Theft, Rumor, and Innuendo:  An excerpt from Salinger:  A Biography
John Dugdale:  Eighty Years of Solitude
Dipti R. Pattanaik:  The Holy Refusal
David Skinner:  The Sentimental Misanthrope:  Why J. D. Salinger Can’t Write
Alex Beam:  J. D. Salinger, Failed Recluse
Lois Menand:  Holden at Fifty

Part IV:  Family, Friends, and Fanatics

Margaret Salinger:  Excerpt from Dream Catcher:  A Memoir
Margaret Salinger:  Daughter of J.D. Salinger, Discusses Her New Book, Dream Catcher
Joyce Maynard:  Excerpt from At Home in the World
Daniel M. Stashower:  On First Looking into Chapman’s Holden
Selections from Letters to J.D. Salinger
Joanna Smith Rakoff:  My Salinger Year
J.B. Miller:  Salinger and Me

In Search of J.D. Salinger by Ian Hamilton

MLA Citation:

Hamilton, Ian. In Search of J.D. Salinger: A Biography. New York: Random House, 1988. Print.

Dust Jacket Copy:

“In 1983 biographer Ian Hamilton began work on what he know would prove a formidable task:  an account of the literary life of one of twentieth-century America’s most widely read and most reclusive writers, J.D. Salinger.  What Hamilton didn’t know was that he would end up with not one story to tell but two, that his own life would ultimately become intimately entangled with that of his notoriously difficult subject.

Through The Catcher in the Rye and his timelessly provocative stories, Salinger’s magic has touched, and continues to touch, the lives of millions of readers.  Yet the creator of Holden Caulfield and of the enigmatic Franny and Zooey is himself as much a mystery as even his most elusive characters.  Now, in a brilliant feat of literary detection, the distinguished biographer Ian Hamilton penetrates the mystery, providing the first extended, responsible study of Jerome David Salinger, the writer and the man.

But In Search of J.D. Salinger is not merely the literary biography that Hamilton set out to write-the version that Salinger challenged in court.  Ian Hamilton startling response has been to recast his book, telling the original story in fascinating detail, but also incorporating within it his own sometimes poignant, sometimes comic, sometimes exasperating quest for Salinger-a quest that has left him irrevocably a part of Salinger’s life, and Salinger a part of his.

Illuminating the roads he found into Salinger’s past-as well as describing the self-questioning process, the false starts, the shifts from certainty to doubt that occurred throughout the pursuit of his subject-Ian Hamilton takes us from Salinger’s New York City childhood and his adolescent years at Valley Forge military Academy to Salinger’s surprising military career; from close friendships and early influences to romances and a brief first marriage; from the days of writing for the ‘slicks’ to the first New Yorker successes; form Salinger’s reclusive obscurity to sudden and overwhelming fame-and his curious response to that fame.  Finally, Hamilton recounts the legal confrontations of 1986 and 1987 that brought Salinger once again into the public world-if only briefly-and led Hamilton to retrace his own steps and retell his story, this time with himself as an essential player.

In Search of J.D. Salinger is a remarkable book in which a major biographer, critic, and poet has unearthed surprising quantities of information from sources other than Salinger himself, revealing what has never before been known about one of our most distinguished writers of fiction-and taking us along on his own turbulent journey in the process.”

Continue reading In Search of J.D. Salinger by Ian Hamilton