Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Over the course of his lifetime, iconic American story writer and novelist J.D. Salinger (1919-2010) developed a complicated reputation on both personal and professional levels. Though he established himself as one of America's leading prose stylists from the 1940s on, Salinger experienced two personal crises as a young man - the first when he lost society girlfriend Oona O'Neill to Charlie Chaplin, and the second when a series of shattering encounters during World War II - including a trip to the Dachau concentration camp - psychologically scarred him for life. In the years that followed, Salinger grew extremely shy and reclusive. Therefore, when his first major novel - 1951's The Catcher in the Rye - grew into a national phenomenon and connected on an startling level with hundreds of thousands of teenagers, some of whom were intent on seeking Salinger out - the belletrist promptly went into hiding in the wilds of New Hampshire, spent decades there, and ultimately decided to stop publishing new works altogether. The lifelong seclusion, in turn, only built up Salinger's mystique and added to the growing public curiosity about him. In this documentary - which was in development and production for over ten years - writer-director Shane Salerno etches out a multifaceted portrait of the talented yet deeply eccentric writer, by telling his life story with insights from ex-lovers, friends, contemporaries and admirers. The many contributors include John Guare, John Cusack, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joyce Maynard and Gore Vidal. True to his elusive reputation, Salinger himself (who died during production) does not do any on-camera interviews. The film builds up to a series of startling disclosures about the specific works left behind by the author, contractually slated to be published in the years following his passing.
hermit, literature, writer, author, recluse