current reading –
The book that Streitfeld has edited isn’t really full of interviews of J. D. Salinger, because Salinger never willingly gave interviews.
Some of these pieces are encounters milked out of him when he felt wronged and wanted to set the record straight. Some touch on legal matters, as in his deposition when he was suing to have a biography aborted. Some came from reporters both savvy and sane, and some from reporters and writers who were having . . . issues. Issues that came from being obsessed with Salinger and his remarkable works.
The book is interesting if you, too, are obsessed with J. D. Salinger and his writing and life.
You have to be even more obsessed with Salinger to read
Beller has written an odd one. And a self-indulgent one. It’s not a biography, but a random walk through Salinger’s life. That could be interesting, if only the reader was Thomas Beller and not me or you.
The problem is that J. D. Salinger’s work feels like it’s uniquely yours. It belongs to you, the reader. Your relationship to Holden or Franny is special. Beller can’t speak for you. No one can. Not even Salinger would.
So the book is kind of voyeuristic. Beller is a fine writer – he is a Tulane professor and has worked at Salinger’s old haunt, The New Yorker. It’s not an essential read.
Unless you’re a Salinger obsessive. You know who you are.