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Salinger by Shane Salerno and David Shields is not so much a biography of J.D. Salinger as it is an assortment of press clips and interview excerpts about Salinger. None of the pieces are properly dated or sourced in the main text, aside from the name of the person speaking or writing, so fifty-year-old articles are lined up next to commentary from academics and the thoughts of the actor Edward Norton. Somewhere in between are words from people who actually knew Salinger. In the book’s 500-plus pages, the “authors” contribute maybe 50 pages of text.

The result is something like a J.D. Salinger Facebook news feed. This is not optimal, but it’s not the biggest problem with Salinger.

The biggest problem is that on a subject where nuance and understanding are required, Salinger is sloppy and lazy. Its flood of information ends up being a mile wide and an inch deep. Even when presenting new details that are valuable and intriguing, Salinger manages to tell a story that is less than the sum of its parts. Then there is David Shields, who I will deal with in a moment. But for these reasons and more, this is about to get ugly…

Read the full review of Salinger at Fiction Advocate.

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Why I’m Worried About Salinger

FA salinger_ver2From Fiction Advocate.

A Salinger bio is an easy thing to screw up. Fortunately, there are reasons for hope about this latest attempt…

I do, however, have one lingering worry. This worry has to do with the involvement of a writer named Paul Alexander. Alexander is a former Time reporter and a biographer who has written on subjects as wide-ranging as Sylvia Plath, Andy Warhol, John Kerry and Karl Rove. In 1999, he published Salinger: A Biography. Alexander is listed as “an adviser” on the forthcoming book, and his own biography is the “based on” source for the Salinger documentary. My concern is that Alexander’s book is the single worst Salinger biography around today.

Read the full story.

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At Least Five New J.D. Salinger Books Said to be Coming

At Least Five New J.D. Salinger Books Said to be Coming.

According to the Times report, a final chapter in the coming Salinger biography details plans for at least five books…

via Fiction Advocate.

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A New and Far Richer Organ

From the New York Times, “The Young Salinger, Mordant Yet Hopeful”:

He ended the letter by asking for her reaction to “the first Holden story,” which he said was called “Slight Rebellion Off Madison,” and signing, simply, “Jerry S.”

My favorite part:

One piece, titled “Harry Jesus,” comes “straight from the belly,” he says.

“It will doubtless tear the country’s heart out,” Salinger writes, “and return the thing a new and far richer organ.”

A collection of Salinger’s letters have been acquired by the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.

For more on Salinger’s early Holden stories, The Real Holden Caulfield ebook is free for download at Fiction Advocate until the end of April.

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Salinger’s Favorite Book?

From Dead Caulfields:

It might surprise some that Salinger’s best-loved book was The Landsmen by Peter Martin. Published in 1952 by Little, Brown, The Landsmen is described as a novel of Jewish-American roots set in a small village in Tsarist Russia at the end of the nineteenth century.

Image is a note Salinger left in a copy of The Landsmen he lent to his cable guy.

Read more about it at Dead Caulfields.

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The Real Holden CaulfieldTODAY IS THE 61ST ANNIVERSARY of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye — and the first anniversary of  “The Real Holden Caulfield.”

This year “The Real Holden Caulfield” is available in every electronic format you can possibly think of. Do you have a Kindle? We have a MOBI file. Do you have a Nook? We have EPUB. Do you have a slab of mud with a USB port? We can probably accommodate that.

If you purchase “The Real Holden Caulfield” now, we’ll send you every format under the sun. In fact, if you purchase any book from the Fiction Advocate Store today, we’ll send you “The Real Holden Caulfield” for free. If you’ve already purchased it and you’d like a format other than PDF, write to us at fictionadvocate AT gmail DOT com and we’ll hook you up.

You can read short excerpts of “The Real Holden Caulfield” on some of our favorite blogs: The AwlThe Rumpus, and Berfrois. Then you can download the full version for $1.99.

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Spider-Man Would Be an Exceptionally Good Catcher in the Rye

“Orphaned high-school wunderkind Peter Parker made his first appearance in print about a decade after the publication of “The Catcher in the Rye,” at the very height of J.D. Salinger’s fame and influence. Solitary, haunted by guilt and sworn to defend the weak, Peter is a virtual clone of Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, albeit with a fantasy alter ego Holden lacks.”

“Spider-Man and Holden Caulfield: A secret history” by Andrew O’Hehir

Go see The Amazing Spider-Man, then read “The Real Holden Caulfield” to decide for yourself.

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