Friday, October 11, 2013

Salinger (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Salinger” Out
In the Open

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

At 16, Holden Caulfield was cynical, resentful of all the phoniness and hypocrisy he encountered in the world.

Sure, he was a fictional character created by author J. D. Salinger, but does he hold any clues as to why Salinger became one of the most reclusive writers of our times?

Salinger published his last work in 1965. He never gave another interview after 1980 (that one recorded without his knowledge). He retreated to his house in Cornish, New Hampshire, dying there on January 27, 2010.

Word is, Salinger had continued writing, but with a proviso that it not be published until after his death. According to one source these works include five new Glass family stories; a novel based on Salinger’s relationship with his first wife; a novella in the form of a World War II counterintelligence officer’s diary; a manual about Vedanta; and other stories that illuminate the life of Holden Caulfield.

An article appearing in The New Yorker suggests that Salinger “stopped writing stories, in the conventional sense ... He seemed to lose interest in fiction as an art form -- perhaps he thought there was something manipulative or inauthentic about literary device and authorial control.”

So what’s his story? What disappointment in life sent him into hiding? Why did he forsake his fans? Why did he turn his back upon the world?

These are some of the questions that a new documentary titled “Salinger” tries to answer. It’s currently playing at the Tropic Cinema -- perhaps offering as close a look into J.D. Salinger’s mind as you’ll ever get.

The film features interviews with some 150 subjects, ranging from Philip Seymour Hoffman to E.L. Doctorow, Tom Wolfe to Gore Vidal.

Filmmaker Shane Salerno kept the project under wraps for five years, protecting his access to Salinger’s friends and inner circle.

The result? As Salerno puts it, “We take the viewer … inside J. D. Salinger’s private world and shine light on a man named Jerry who lived in the shadow of the myth of J. D. Salinger.”

You’ll learn about Jerry’s disillusionments based on his war experiences (he suffered from “combat stress”). His girlfriend Oona O’Neill left him to marry Charlie Chaplin. The New Yorker rejected most of his submissions. His attraction to younger women led to several marriages and numerous affairs. He toyed with Zen Buddhism, Kriya yoga, Dianetics, and other out-of-the-mainstream belief systems. He hated phoniness and hypocrisy.

Hm, where did we hear that before? It’s known that Salinger identified closely with his characters. Or did Holden Caulfield identify closely with him?

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