J.D. Salinger is considered by many to be one of the most mysterious writers of the 20th century. Really, what could be more unusual and curious than a writer who publishes a bestselling novel and then leaves all kinds of public life, leaves in seclusion, almost never gives interviews and never publishes anything. For fifty years afterwards Salinger remained a mystery and a living legend for those impressed by his breakthrough novel The Catcher in the Rye. It is only natural – people like inexplicable mysteries, and Salinger’s life was sure one of them.
Recently released documentary Salinger, however, tries to cast its own glance on this secret and, probably, reveal some aspects of Salinger’s life that weren’t known before.
It is very important to understand that Salinger’s works and his unusual behavior have led to the appearance of cult following. Nevertheless, when we usually use this term we simply mean that a book or a movie is outstandingly popular and has some extremely devoted fans who seem to be much more aware of the fictional world than the real one. In case of Salinger it acquired even more intensive forms: for many people he turned into a kind of deity, and any attempt to make his image look more well-rounded and realistic are met with extreme prejudice.
It is probably what awaits Salinger. While paying due respects to the legacy of one of the most famous American writers of the last century, it tries to give answers to the questions that have been harrowing people for decades: Why Salinger left the world to live in seclusion? Why did he stop publishing? What was he writing all these years? What was happening behind the walls of his house in Cornish? And maybe, just maybe, after watching this documentary movie some people will get an opportunity to see Salinger as somebody less of a supernatural being, more human than considered previously. Maybe it will give another explanation than a simply “He was too good for this world to live in it”.
In fact, it is not the first work that debunks the image of Salinger as a saint. Salinger, however, gives this whole story a new angle, it allows people to perceive the twofold aspect of Salinger’s nature: as a writer and as a person with his own flaws and peculiarities that make him all the more unique.