J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist

New Harvest. (Icons). Jun. 2014. 192p. notes. ISBN 9780544261990. $20. LIT
Beller (Tulane Univ.; How To Be a Man) shares his reflection of J.D. Salinger's life (1919–2010) and fiction (Franny and Zooey; Nine Stories) in this imaginative work. The author feels a strong emotional connection to his subject (he describes reading The Catcher in the Rye and understanding that language could be "some kind of catharsis") and, throughout the text, refers to his commonalities with Salinger—being a native of New York City, being expelled from high school, and being Jewish. The New Yorker magazine is another link, with both having contributed to the publication. Beller's wide-ranging research includes reading Salinger's letters, interviewing descendants of his contemporaries, and visiting the summer camp in Maine that Salinger attended. The author refers to secondary sources but does not provide a bibliography, although notes accompany the text. Beller overcomes his feelings of guilt at this invasion of Salinger's privacy by contending that, like a theme in much of Salinger's work, "death changes things"; this allows him to examine the elements of Salinger's life—the people, places, and events—that shaped his stories.
VERDICT Beller's prose is conversational and intimate, and his admiration for his subject is evident. Salinger enthusiasts will enjoy this title.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing