J.D. Salinger would have hated every single word and frame
October 21, 2013 12:02 PM Subscribe
Salinger Betrayed: despite their show-stopping if unattributed revelation of a publication schedule and descriptions for the author's posthumous works, Shane Salerno's tabloid-style documentary film (now recut), and the accompanying biography co-written by David Shields, have been very poorly received.
Despite all these revelations — and many others as well — both the book and the Salerno film leave you feeling dirty and a little sick. Perhaps it’s because they make us participants in the Chasing The Recluse game [...] But even Shields’s and Salerno’s brash, ham-fisted interpretation of Salinger’s life pales in comparison to what they do to his fiction. — Cornel Bonca: Salinger Betrayed
The subject of the book and documentary is not Salinger the writer but Salinger the star: exactly the identity he spent the last fifty years of his life trying to shed. Cast entirely in terms of celebrity culture and its discontents, every act of Salinger’s is weighed as though its primary purpose was to push or somehow extend his “reputation” — Adam Gopnik: Who Was J.D. Salinger?
They don’t trust the author’s work to be of interest; Salinger crassly sells his fame and deliberate mystification–about his affluence family, his WWII experience on D-Day and at the Auschwitz death camp, his persistent pursuit of The New Yorker magazine’s ratification, his marriages and relations with much younger women. Putting Salinger through the celebrity meat-grinder, this is envy-based tabloid filmmaking surreally amplified like a comic-book movie. It puts audiences through a meat-grinder. — Armond White: Salinger in the Meat Grinder
Aspiring to a sort of crowd-sourced portrait, it ends up adding cumulative noise to the myths of its subject's life without ever convincingly approaching what appeared to be the determined quietness of the reality. — Tim Adams: This cut-and-paste biography of JD Salinger fails to get anywhere near the man or his work.
There are insights that can be plucked from it, but to do so requires strenuous resistance to the spirit of the project (both book and film), which is not just leering and gossipy, but aggressively anti-literary. — A.O. Scott: The Punishment for Being Publicity-ShyBonus link: Dominic Smith explains a previous Salinger biography's legacy in copyright law, and the huge obstacles it's created for literary biographers
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