photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
the SECRETIVE figure of the much REVERED author J.D. SALINGER is as COMPLICATED and ORNERY as his most FAMOUS fictional creation HOLDEN CAULFIELD and the latter half of the 20th century that grew in his image. his 1951 novel THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY, 1951) was the product of a DISGRUNTLED and MISTRUSTED mindset and CONTRARIAN perspective that grew out of SALINGER's INTENSE experiences as a COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT during WORLD WAR II. that sense of understanding the daylight between official rhetoric and witnessing the unadulterated HARSH realities of war. the success and universal praise of his book resulted in a NOTORIETY and CELEBRITY that he was neither prepared for nor wanted. his retreat from NEW YORK CITY, where he grew up a child of immense means and PRIVILEGE, to rural CORNISH, NEW HAMPSHIRE was maneuver meant to ensure both his PRIVACY and CREATIVE PROCESS. he wasnt a hermit as he was a part of the fabric of the SMALL TOWN, whose inhabitants were fiercely LOYAL to him. but to outsiders and national press with questions related CATCHER or CAULFIELD he had no time for.
thus there is the somewhat personally INTRUSIVE documentary SALINGER (THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY, 2013) released shortly after his death that attempts to contextualize his LITERARY CAREER and CULTURAL IMPACT / LEGACY as well as provide explanations for his lifelong sabbatical from the limelight. participants include fellow novelists TOM WOLFE, GORE VIDAL, E.L. DOCTOROW and ELIZABETH FRANK as well as playwrights STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS and JOHN GUARE, not to mention actors PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, EDWARD NORTON, JOHN CUSACK, DANNY DEVITO and MARTIN SHEEN among others. probably most SIGNIFICANT are the many editors, confidants, lovers and peers that knew him in his earlier years that participated in the film, yet nobody seems to have a handle on the MERCURIAL figure. everyone was presented with a figure in command of himself to the point that he only revealed what he wanted to show and once one's usefulness or prying nature reached a point, were shut out on no uncertain terms.
it would appear every relationship was on his terms post-FAME. pre-FAME he was in love with OONA O'NEILL, daughter of REVERED playwright EUGENE O'NEILL, who left him for CHARLIE CHAPLIN while he was serving in combat during WORLD WAR II. for the rest of his life SALINGER was preoccupied with young women in their late teens and early twenties, roughly the same age of O'NEILL when they were together. it would appear SALINGER was not comfortable with women once they reached the stage of INDEPENDENCE and/or motherhood, which is interesting but SAD. its as if his emotional and psychological development was stunted or irrevocably WARPED after bearing witness to the unendurable HORRORS OF WAR. he had participated in the D-DAY invasion as well as later discovered a sub-camp of DACHAU called KAUFERING IV where the NAZIS forced the sick and dying to work before being exterminated during the HOLOCAUST. due to his proficiency in both GERMAN and FRENCH, SALINGER stayed on after the armistice to hunt down NAZIs and bring them to justice as a COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT. it should be noted that throughout this intense period SALINGER was writing CATCHER. it is no hyperbole to say that the figure of CAULFIELD and SALINGER's own views towards femininity were rooted in his WARTIME EXPERIENCE. in a sense you can view FAME and the burgeoning CELEBRITY CULTURE of the period as a new confrontational front to be weary of resist at all costs.
its hard not to be intrigued by SALINGER the person. his life's narrative is one of INTENSE LITERARY AMBITION and punishingly BRUTAL personal disappointments. he lived a full life even if such was in the shadow of his fictional creations that were so adored, or in the case of three PSYCHOTIC maniacs, misunderstood, by many. SALINGER is worth checking out whether one is a fan of literature or not.