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.
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.
Tuesday night in Los Angeles, musician Marya Alford debuted “Franny (and Zooey)”, a duet for piano that was composed based on “every element” of punctuation from J.D. Salinger’s “Franny and Zooey.”
By way of praise, the blog LA Weekly wrote that “As far as experimental compositions go, the music itself isn’t all that unpleasant-sounding…” It’s an accurate assessment, based on the sample available online (see below). Spare notes and soft, major-key chords build up slowly, filling out the silence with something that may or may not ever take shape (this is the part where I forego some lame exhortation to listen for the notes that aren’t being played).
The sample sounds like Keith Jarrett tuning up, or the opening piano futzing on Ani DiFranco’s “You Had Time.” Whether it ever manages to connect with Salinger’s stories is unclear.
Take a listen.
A CD and booklet of the piece are said to be on their way.