Just finished reading J.D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski. I must admit, I’m a mixed fan of Salinger. I think his writing is great, but at the same time it can be a bit much. This biography does a fine job of interpreting all the stories and characters Salinger wrote. It also gives you an overview of the public information available about Salinger. I just couldn’t help feeling that the biographer was perhaps too easy on the author.
I have to admit, I skipped some of the analysis included in this book and enjoyed the footnotes–where I think the real story lies. It’s those footnote details from odd and interesting sources that show the life of the author more than the interpretation of what and why and how the characters were developed. Of course, that’s just my humble opinion. I want to see the contents of letters and what might be inside the vault.
Finally, this author never deals with the question of what Salinger did or didn’t create during those last twenty years he spent isolated and not publishing. It is mentioned, but there’s no real information on what Salinger might have left behind. While this info might not have been available, it felt like the biographer gave Salinger a pass and that to me was disappointing. That said, Slawenski’s writing is terrific and the organization of this biography, basically chronological, works.