Writer’s Desk: Write for Yourself, First

catcher-in-the-rye-red-coverIn 1974, J.D. Salinger broke 20-plus years of silence to talk to a reporter about, in part, unauthorized editions of his work that had been appearing. One of the literary world’s most famous curmudgeons, Salinger didn’t have much use for the apparatus of publicity and publishing. And why should he? Catcher in the Rye and his short stories had made him famous and wealthy at a relatively early age.

He told Lacey Fosburgh:

There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. It’s peaceful. Still. Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy.

That’s to be expected from the man many saw, unfairly or not, as a not-so-grown-up Holden Caulfield.

Less so is what followed:

I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.

It’s not a bad piece of non-advice. After all, if you don’t like what you’re writing, it’s more than likely nobody else will, either.

New in Theaters: ‘Salinger’

J.D. Salinger: Was he writing more books all those years up in New Hampshire?
J.D. Salinger: Was he writing more books all those years up in New Hampshire?

salinger-posterShane Salerno has mostly been a screenwriter for flicks like Armageddon. So it was surprising to hear first that he’d been working for nine years on a documentary about J.D. Salinger and second that he had some pretty large bombshells to drop about the infamously reclusive late author (i.e., new books!).

Salinger opened this week and is being promoted for a potential documentary Oscar nomination that it won’t quite deserve. My review is at Film Journal International:

Although Salinger contains several acute insights about the author’s psychology, its tendency to get as overly excited as the distributor’s heavily hyped publicity campaign sometimes cheapens the whole affair. It’s clearly a labor of love for Salerno, an action-film scribe (SavagesArmageddon) who reportedly spent nine years doggedly digging up material. But he teases out bombshell fragments about the possibilities of new Salinger writings with all the subtlety of a rocket-propelled grenade and resorts to laughable recreations with an actor who looks nothing like Salinger himself…

The trailer is here:

Trailer Park: ‘Salinger’

SALINGER_FINALThe theories that have swirled around the reclusive J.D. Salinger over the decades since his disappearance are many and mostly ridiculous (a personal favorite being that he actually still walks among us … writing as Thomas Pynchon). It’s what happens when you write a defining novel like The Catcher in the Rye and then just drop off the face of the earth.

It will be interesting to see what Shane Salerno’s award-potential documentary Salinger is going to be able to come up with when it opens this fall. What pops up in the trailer looks to be a mix of biography, adulation from various literary types and actors, and wildly imaginative speculation—the most enticing of which being: Is there a new book in the offing?

You can check out the trailer here: