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
Slawenski's biography of J.D. Salinger begins with his death, jumps to his ancestry, then moves chronologically from Salinger's time in boarding school and mentorship with Columbia professor Whit Burnett to his early romance with the beautifully dull Oona O'Neill and his eventual isolation in Cornish, N.H. As Sonny Salinger becomes Jerry and eventually J.D., Slawenski sheds light on people and places that might have served as fodder for Salinger's writing, and unearths how formative Salinger's experiences fighting in WWII were to his psyche and craft. The biography is meticulously comprehensive yet compelling throughout, and Norman Dietz's reading voice proves perfect. He tone is warm and soothing, as if he is a grandfather sharing stories about his late best friend whom he adored and hopes the world will, too. A Random hardcover.