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Salinger: A Biography by Paul Alexander

by Venky


The man who gifted the literary world “Holden Caulfield” also ensured that he remained obdurately inaccessible to the public throughout his life. While Holden Caulfield and “The Catcher In The Rye” do not seem to have any obstacles in gaining and regaining popularity, their creator seemingly seems to have gone out of his way to avoid being popular, unrelenting in his pursuit of shunning the arc lights of fame.

In this searching portrait of J.D.Salinger, one of the most influential, albeit reclusive authors of our time, Paul Alexander seeks to unravel the mystery shrouding the escape from life attitude of one of America’s most loved literary giants. The outcome of such a difficult and complex endeavor is a set of plausible and searing notions that astonish and stun the reader. Getting into Salinger’s head can be an extremely daunting task. Many have attempted only to fall by the way side, accumulating scorn and contempt in the process.

Alexander, displaying great subtlety and tact, proposes working around the hurdle rather than take it head on. Was Salinger’s attempt at being reclusive an ulterior but genius master stroke at acquiring popularity? The means of getting at the very objective which Salinger outwardly seem to detest? Was his escaping to the quaint town of Cornish, a signaling act of building an insatiable curiosity surrounding his life amongst his fans? Or was Salinger plagued by a sexual tension as evidenced in his prepubescent as well as teen heroines ranging from Esme to Louis and from Franny to Phoebe Caulfield? Salinger’s own romantic trysts with women significantly younger to him in age seems to edify this belief.

Thomas Pynchon and Don Dellilio were also reclusive. But unlike Salinger, they were absolutely lost to the searching examination of the public, whereas J.D.Salinger chose to make isolated and rare appearances, many of which were those extensively covered by the media. Salinger’s love-hate relationship with his publishers and his absolute revulsion for the publishing world (which he deemed ‘devious’) also set him apart from the rest of his contemporaries.

The man is now physically lost to the world. Salinger died in the year 2010 choosing to leave a great part of his life swathed in mystery. However he will continue to live for ever and mesmerise us all through the thoughts, deeds and words of Holden Caulfield.

J.D.Salinger – The real Catcher In The Rye.

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