J. D. Salinger: A Life

J. D. Salinger: A Life

by Kenneth Slawenski
2.9 23

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J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The inspiration for the major motion picture Rebel in the Rye

One of the most popular and mysterious figures in American literary history, the author of the classic Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger eluded fans and journalists for most of his life. Now he is the subject of this definitive biography, which is filled with new information and revelations garnered from countless interviews, letters, and public records.

Kenneth Slawenski explores Salinger’s privileged youth, long obscured by misrepresentation and rumor, revealing the brilliant, sarcastic, vulnerable son of a disapproving father and doting mother. Here too are accounts of Salinger’s first broken heart—after Eugene O’Neill’s daughter, Oona, left him—and the devastating World War II service that haunted him forever. J. D. Salinger features this author’s dramatic encounters with luminaries from Ernest Hemingway to Elia Kazan, his office intrigues with famous New Yorker editors and writers, and the stunning triumph of The Catcher in the Rye, which would both make him world-famous and hasten his retreat into the hills of New Hampshire. J. D. Salinger is this unique author’s unforgettable story in full—one that no lover of literature can afford to miss.

Praise for J. D. Salinger: A Life
“Startling . . . insightful . . . [a] terrific literary biography.”—USA Today

“It is unlikely that any author will do a better job than Mr. Slawenski capturing the glory of Salinger’s life.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Slawenski fills in a great deal and connects the dots assiduously; it’s unlikely that any future writer will uncover much more about Salinger than he has done.”Boston Sunday Globe
“Offers perhaps the best chance we have to get behind the myth and find the man.”Newsday
“[Slawenski has] greatly fleshed out and pinned down an elusive story with precision and grace.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Earnest, sympathetic and perceptive . . . [Slawenski] does an evocative job of tracing the evolution of Salinger’s work and thinking.”—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679604792
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/25/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 53,622
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Kenneth Slawenski is the creator of DeadCaulfields.com, a website founded in 2004 and recommended by The New York Times. He has been working on this biography for eight years. Slawenski was born in New Jersey, and has lived there all his life.

From the Hardcover edition.

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J. D. Salinger 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Oscar_Newton More than 1 year ago
Since Salinger's death I have been eagerly anticipating a biography that would explore the depths of this extraordinary author's life. Anyone who has read Salinger knows his genius; and anyone with the slightest interest in Salinger knows he lead a fascinating life. What I, and I imagine millions of fans, want to know is where did Salinger's genius come from, and why did he vanish from his adoring public? It was with great enthusiasm that I delved into this book. WHAT AN UTTER DISSAPOINTMENT! Firstly, it is poorly written. While Mr. Slawneski is certainly a fan (and probably fanatic) of Salinger, he clearly is no scholar, or for that matter, writer. After re-reading Slawenski's attempt to lay out the Salinger family tree three times, I gave up. It was as if he was trying to get me lost. However, I could forgive poor writing if the information was new and interesting. It's neither. There's really not much that is new in this book; it seems like the book is a rehashing of the information that's already been told about Salinger. The book utterly lacks any revelatory information. It's a lot of words that go nowhere. I felt like everything in the book came from Wikipedia. So why is the book over 450 pages? Because Slawenski, like the professor in the worst literature course you ever took, explores the minutiae of each of Salinger's works with mind-numbing detail. With as many words as Slawenski used, one would think he would have used some of them to delve into what made Salinger into the author he became. Sadly, Slawenski only regurgitates what we already knew about Salinger and offers no new insight.
AlanFAF More than 1 year ago
Imagine if the president of the J.D. Salinger Fan Club wrote a "biography" of J.D. Salinger. That is what this book is. I was expecting a biography, but this book is Slawenski's love letter to the object of his adoration.
cripbook More than 1 year ago
Excellent review of the life of this remarkable writer. More revelations still to come?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He had a high fence between house and gravel road a cellar to cellar walk way between house and garage so no one could see him a normal walk way with high winidows would have done he then built another back in further house is 650 thousand with 12 acres my question is how did he make a living in between with three wives (two exs)? I dont remember anything about the book but read when first came out ir some of it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TX-LA-MS-CG_Family More than 1 year ago
I am reading this book now am almost finished.  I have always loved Salinger's writing but I now I know so much more about the symbolism in the works and the author's life.  I was moved to write a review after seeing the negative comments here.  I'm not a lit major but I found this book very well written, entertaining and authoritative.  Now I can't wait to go back and re-read Salinger.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hagiography that is not recommended. By the end of the book the reader is weary of the constant praise of Salinger. Also, be forewarned that every story Salinger ever wrote is tediously reviewed.
9stories More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it, but I'm a lit major, a librarian, and have read everything Salinger wrote. I was in college when Catcher in the Rye and 9 stories were published and I identify with the angst. You need to be deeply involved with Salinger's mindset and have a literary knowledge of his works to appreciate this book. My personal favorite is Seymour, an Introduction and, of the stories, For Esme, which I read in The New Yorker when it was first published. Maybe he doesn't speak to today's youth as he did to mine.
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