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

Letters to J.D. Salinger edited by Chris Kubica and Will Hochman

MLA Citation:

Kubica, Chris, and Will Hochman. Letters to J.D. Salinger. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 2002. Print.

Book Jacket Copy:

“He published his only novel more than fifty years ago.  He has hardly been seen or heard from since 1965.  Most writers fitting such a description are long forgotten, but if the novel is The Catcher in the Rye and the writer is J.D. Salinger…well, he’s the stuff of legends, the most famously reclusive writer of the twentieth century.  If you could write to him, what would you say?

Salinger continues to maintain his silence, but Holden Caulfield, Fanny and Zooey, and Seymour Glass–the unforgettable characters of his novel and short stories–continue to speak to generations of readers and writers.  Letters to J.D. Salinger includes more than eighty personal letters addressed to Salinger from well-known writers, editors, critics, journalists, and other luminaries, as well as from students, teachers, and readers around the world, some of whom have just discovered Salinger for the first time.  Their voices testify to the lasting impression Salinger’s ideas and emotions have made on so many diverse lives.”

Reader’s Guide – “Uncle Wiggily In Connecticut”

Publication Details:

J.D. Salinger, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” The New Yorker.  March 20, 1948.  p 30-36.  Print.

Salinger, J.D. “”Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut”” Nine Stories. Boston: Little, Brown, 1953. Print.

Character List:

Eloise Wengler – the woman of the house where the story is set, mother of Ramona and wife of Lew, former girlfriend of Walt Glass.

Mary Jane – Eloise’s former college roommate, come to have a visit with Eloise.

Ramona Wengler – Eloise and Lew’s daughter, has an imaginary friend named Jimmy Jimereeno who dies during the course of the story.

Lew Wengler – Eloise’s husband – is mentioned but does not appear in the story.

Walt Glass – only referred to a “Walt,” Eloise’s old boyfriend who called drafted during their relationship and died in WWII.  Is a member of the Glass family.

Grace – The Wengler’s housekeeper.

Summary:

The story opens with Mary Jane arriving at Eloise’s house for a quick visit.  The women had been roommates in college, though neither of them graduated.  Eloise had been caught with a solider in her dorm (maybe that soldier was Walt?) and Mary Jane left college to get married to another soldier who spent two of the three months they were married in jail.

Eloise and Mary Jane start drinking and talking about their college days, and about mutual friends.  Mary Jane keeps insisting that she needs to leave, but Eloise keeps the drinks coming and they both sit and drink and smoke for a while.  Eloise’s daughter, Ramona, comes in and Mary Jane speaks to her.  Ramona has an imaginary friend named Jimmy Jimereeno.  Ramona later informs Mary Jane and Eloise that Jimmy is dead, having been hit by a car.

Eloise talks about Walt, her ex-boyfriend, and gets very sentimental.  She tells Mary Jane that one time she injured her ankle, and Walk said, “Poor Uncle Wiggily,” talking about her ankle.  The conversation moves to Lew, Eloise’s husband, and Mary Jane asks why Eloise never told Lew about Walt, and Eloise waxes philosophical about men and marriage, stating that men never want to know about the men you dated before them.  Mary Jane and Eloise discuss how Walt died in the war, and Eloise continues to get even more emotional.

Lew calls and we hear Eloise’s side of the conversation.  The weather is bad and Lew is not sure when he’ll be home.  Later, Grace asks Eloise if her husband can stay the night, because the weather is so bad.  Eloise tells her that he cannot stay, and Grace acquiesces.

Mary Jane passes out on the couch, and Eloise goes upstairs to check on Ramona, who she had sent upstairs after determining she was feverish after Ramona informed the women about Jimmy’s unfortunate accident.  Ramona is only sleeping on one side of her bed, and Eloise asks her why, since Jimmy is dead.  Ramona tells her that she is making room for her new friend, Mickey Mickeranno.  Eloise is cross with Ramona, telling her to get in the center of the bed immediately.  Ramona is afraid and shuts her eyes.

Eloise is maudlin, picks up Ramona’s glasses which are sitting on the side table, lenses up and stems down.  She holds them to her teary cheek, and repeats “Poor Uncle Wiggily” over and over again.  She puts the glasses back down on the nightstand, lenses down, still wet with her tears.  She leans over her daughter, who has been crying, and kisses her and staggers out of the room.

Eloise goes downstairs, wakes up Mary Jane, and reminds her of a time that someone at school made a mean comment about a dress Eloise wore.  She says that she cried all night about it.  She asks Mary Jane, “I was a nice girl…wasn’t I?”

Continue reading Reader’s Guide – “Uncle Wiggily In Connecticut”

Salinger’s Allusions to “My Foolish Heart” by George Cheatham

MLA Citation:

Cheatham, George, and Edwin Arnaudin. “Salinger’s Allusions to “My Foolish Heart” – The Salinger Movie.” ANQ 20.2 (2007): 39-43. Print.

First Paragraph:

“As Peter Beidler, among others, has noted, ‘Most of Holden Caulfield’s references to book and movies in The Catcher in the Rye turn out to be real, though perhaps obscure ones.’ (44).  One such obscure but real reference-perhaps two, although the reference, or references, might be Salinger’s rather than Holden’s-is to My Foolish Heart, a 1949 feature film based on Salinger’s sotry ‘Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut’ (1948, reprinted in Nine Stories, 1953) and remembered now mostly for its title song, which became a pop standard, and for having ‘killed Salinger movies’ as John Truby phrases it.  The creative team at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios-which included Samuel Goldwyn and Casablanca screenwriters Julius and Philip Epstein-managed to turn Salinger’s brief but bitter indictment of upper-middle-class phoniness into what one reviewer called a ‘four-handkerchief tearjerker of repentance and redemption’ (qtd in Alexander 141).  Salinger, reportedly both humiliated and appaled by what ‘Hollywood had done to ‘Uncle Wiggily,’ subsequently refused, notoriously, to sell the movie rights to Catcher in the Rye.  ‘No, no, no,’ he insisted, ‘I had a bad experience in Hollywood once’ (Alexander 141-142).”

Continue reading Salinger’s Allusions to “My Foolish Heart” by George Cheatham

The Phony World and the Nice World by Warren French

MLA Citation:

French, Warren G. “The Phony World and the Nice World.” Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature 4.1 (1963): 21-30. Print.

First Paragraphwisconsin journal for french uw article:

“Just as one inspecting real estate must seek some central promontory from which to get the lay of the land, so the critic trying to get an author’s work into perspective seeks some central document that provides a focal point from which the others must be viewed.  Since the work on any considerable writer is, furthermore, likely to embody a complexity of subtly insinuated themes rather than to reiterate a single, baldly stated idea, more than one of his works may serve as a center for organizing a study of his achievement.  So far comprehensive evaluations of J.D. Salinger’s work have been built around two short stories; I propose to utilize a third.”

Continue reading The Phony World and the Nice World by Warren French

A Note on Salinger’s Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut by Martin J. LaHood

MLA Citation:

LaHood, Martin J.  “A Note on Salinger’s ‘Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut.'” Revue des Langues Vivantes, 33 (1967), 567-598.

Sublette’s Synopsis:

“LaHood demonstrates that Eloise ‘has become an unhappy and cynical human being’ because her vision of an idealistic ‘make-believe’ world has been replaced by the harsh reality of ‘blind fate.'”

Zen and Nine Stories by Bernice and Sanford Goldstein

MLA Citation:

Goldstein, Bernice and Goldstein, Sanford. “Zen and Nine Stories.”. Renascence: Essays on Value in Literature: 22. (1970), pp. 171-82.

Publisher’s Abstract:

“Because Salinger has prefixed to Nine stories as a Zen koan, the Zen element in these stories ought to be investigated.  The attempt to solve a koan (for example, the sound of one hand clapping) may lead, among several possibilities, to insanity or enlightenment.  Thus one approach to Nine Stories is an examination of these two extremes of the koan experience.  In such stories as “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” “The Laughing Man,” and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” the destructive element is uppermost.  In “For Esme – With Love and Squalor” and “De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period,” the positive element of enlightenment.  Since children come closest to the Zen experience (Teddy, for example), Salinger’s focus on children in these stories serves to sharpen differences between the enlightened and non-enlightened, the logical and illogical, the spontaneous and self-conscious.  The rational adult world confronted by impossible choice (by koan) may react in a logically rational though destructive way, but the world of the child has perhaps not yet reached the stage where dichotomies prevent full immersion in each confronted moment.”

Reader’s Guide – “A Slight Rebellion Off Madison”

Contributed by Tim Towslee. Thank you Tim!

Publication History:

  • c. 1941, sold to the New Yorker in November 1941 as “Am I Banging My Head Against the Wall?” (Greiner), publication delayed due to U.S. entry into WWII
  • p. 21 December 1946 in The New Yorker as “Slight Rebellion Off Madison”
  • collected in David Remmick’s Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker (2000)

Character List:

Holden Caulfield: The central character. His middle name is Morrisey.

George Harrison: An acquaintance of Sally Hayes. He is a student at Andover.

Sally Hayes: A girl Holden likes and is meeting in the city for ice skating.

Carl Luce:: Carl is described as overweight and unattractive. He is a classmate of Holden’s at Pencey Prep.

Summary:

This story is the assumed basis for The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 17. In it, Holden Caulfield goes ice skating with Sally Hayes. After some small talk with her, Holden reveals his thoughts about his perceived pointlessness of prep school. He tells her he’d like for them to move away, far away, from the city; but Sally dismisses this as a ridiculous notion. Later, Holden and Carl Luce appear at the Wadsworth bar, where they drink scotch and sodas. Holden calls Carl an “intellectual guy” and asks him what he would do if he hated school and wanted to “get the hell out of New York.” Later, when he is alone Holden drunkenly calls Sally twice on a payphone. Then, after chatting with the piano player, Holden waits for a bus on the corner of Madison Avenue with tears in his eyes.

Continue reading Reader’s Guide – “A Slight Rebellion Off Madison”

J. D. Salinger