J.D. Salinger is one of the most divisive authors around, much more so than the usual suspects that might pop up on your radar. And I don’t mean because of the bizarre number of people who try to get the book banned from libraries because it says “fuck” six whole times. Seriously what the fuck is wrong with you fucking fucktards who think that your precious fucking teenager has never fucking heard that magical fucking four letter word that has been sprinkled through every fucking conversation in every fucking high school for the last fifty fucking years? There that sentence should be good enough to get me banned from conservative high schools throughout the country.
I mean that the level of love-hate for the book is pretty much at a one to one ratio, which just doesn’t tend to happen. Yeah there are Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown, who also have a lot of people who hate them and a lot of people who love them, but there’s a big difference. I won’t even try to put this delicately. Most authors are divisive because people with intelligence and taste are on one side of the fence, and genetic disappointments are on the other. But with Catcher in the Rye, the line runs right through the middle. Grab a group of well read intelligent individuals and mention that title and half will roll their eyes while the other half get excited and then call the rest phonies.
[Scratches head]. So, apropos of nothing, Dustin might have told Joanna and I that we were phonies.
Salinger of course was famously reclusive, refusing to have anything to do with the public eye or even publish anything from the 1960s until his death in 2010, despite writing for several hours every day. His daughter has said that he meticulously organized his writing, color coding whether it was reading for publication after his death as is, or whether it needed edited first. By some accounts, he’s got 15 unpublished novels in a safe, and no one knows when or even if the world will ever see them.
But this is all build up for a truly interesting looking documentary about Salinger’s life, delving into his war experiences, the basis of his writing, and what made him withdraw from the world. Here’s the trailer:
And here’s the documentary’s summary:
SALINGER features interviews with 150 subjects including Salinger’s friends, colleagues and members of his inner circle who have never spoken on the record before as well as film footage, photographs and other material that has never been seen. Additionally, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, Gore Vidal and Pulitzer Prize winners A. Scott Berg and Elizabeth Frank talk about Salinger’s influence on their lives, their work and the broader culture. The film is the first work to get beyond the Catcher in the Rye author’s meticulously built up wall: his childhood, painstaking work methods, marriages, private world and the secrets he left behind after his death in 2010.
I could really do without a lot of the actors talking, but I suppose that’s the selling point of this for a lot of people.