Posts tagged ‘David Shields’


I’ve mentioned in a past post that, after reading an author’s work, I seek out their biography. With J. D. Salinger, I did the exact opposite.

I first read Salinger’s biography by David Shields and Shane Salerno. I couldn’t remember if I had read Salinger’s classic, The Catcher in the Rye, so I read it and recently posted my thoughts, and now have read Franny and Zooey. This book is composed of two works concerning members of the Glass family. Here are my thoughts.

Franny and Zooey are the youngest of the seven siblings, two girls and five boys, of the Glass family. Their parents are vaudeville actors and the children are all described as being extremely intelligent and attractive. The radio show, It’s a Wise Child, features the siblings for an extended period for there is a great age difference between the first and the last.

In the first piece, Franny, we find a girl of twenty, with a rather unstable nature, meeting her boyfriend for a weekend game. They go for lunch where martinis are consumed and endless cigarettes smoked. The language is stilted, by today’s standards. The Zooey piece concerns her brother and her condition in the previous piece. Zooey, along with his mother, also smoke constantly. Zooey also exhibits an attitude and sophistication not keeping with his age of perhaps 25.

The purpose of this post is, in my opinion, today’s reader would not find these works entertaining, or meaningful.

After publishing his work, Salinger wrote, as a recluse for 45 years, producing a reported volume of work to be published in the future, dealing with the Glass family as well as the Caulfield family from The Catcher in the Rye.

I’m looking forward to reading these works to see, while in seclusion, Salinger kept up with the times. Generations of both families would have past. Did they trade martinis for marihuana? Did the stiltedness of their encounters become steamy sex? Did his writing change to reflect the time?

Here are some links where you may purchase my work.

Melange Books

Barnes &

January 8, 2015 at 7:24 pm Leave a comment


Until recently I knew little about J. D. Salinger other than the fact that he was the author of the Catcher in the Rye, that he was out there remaining secluded, and then he was dead. I could not remember if I had ever read his classic.

After catching some of the documentary by Shane Salerno on PBS about Salinger, I decided to read the biography he and Shields wrote about the author. I found it to be a compelling read exploring the complex personality of the writer and the influence of WW II on his work, and how an off-shoot of Buddhism, Vedanta, influenced his life and made him the man he became after the war. Shields and Salerno brought home the point that Salinger could not tolerate phoniness in people and the life that surrounded him.   This, of course, is the primary theme of Holden Caulfield, the main character in the Catcher.

After reading Salinger’s biography, I decided to either read or reread the Catcher. After finishing the book, I can say that I either totally missed the great revelations supposedly contained within the pages of the work, wouldn’t be the first time, or the book is like a good poem, you take away from the reading what you bring.

Holden Caulfield, Salinger’s alter ego, cannot tolerate the phoniness in all he sees around him. At the age of sixteen, he has an opinion on everything and yet has accomplished nothing other than being kicked out of a series of exclusive prep schools.

It seems to me, and here is where I may be missing something, that Caulfield is the biggest phony of them all. His total existence is dependent on his lawyer father’s ‘dime’. The language in the novel is true to the era, but dated by today’s standards. This should make the future publication the 45 years of constant writing Salinger supposedly accomplished in solitude interesting. During those years, Salinger was allegedly working diligently in fleshing-out the Caulfield family along with the Glass family, the subject of much of his other works.

The setting for the Catcher strongly reflects the 1940’s. It will be interesting, taking into account Salinger’s isolation from the world, how he handles the development of his characters, their language and lifestyles. Needless to say, Salinger’s publishing future provides great anticipation.

To be continued…

Here are some links where you may purchase my work.

Melange Books


Barnes & Noble. Com

November 15, 2014 at 8:07 pm Leave a comment


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