Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is a book that gets better each time it's read.  By the third read it's hard not to choke on the brilliant simplicity of Holden's account of living.  I can't read Catcher just once.  It's short and so addictive that each time I pick it up I read it straight through twice in a row.  Holden's always running around so miserable he wants to kill himself.  Me too.  Every time I get in the subway I just want to die.  Every time I think about herald square I want to jump off a cliff.  Or the range rover I see driving around the streets of manhattan with the decorative fog lights?  That really kills me.  So do the real housewives of New Jersey.  I mean, really.  

And so when I read that there would be a new documentary of J.D. Salinger in the New York Times, I knew I had to see it.  No matter how aggressively it was being panned.  So this past weekend Pete & I cozied up with peppermint tea and streamed the new documentary through Netflix.  It's long.  Two hours.  So it actually took us two nights to watch (stop laughing).  And there are some very interesting interviews with interesting people (Tom Wolfe, Philip Seymore Hoffman) about an incredibly engaging topic (Salinger himself).  Like many renowned artists, Salinger's history is absolutely fascinating.  And so any discussion of that history is captivating.  

But people.  I could have made this documentary on my family desktop in highschool in 2003.  The voiceovers over shots of a man in a dark theater tapping at a typewriter and smoking a cigarette are embarrassingly sentimental and silly.  Pete & I spent a lot of the time during that two hours laughing and making impressions of the creepy southern narrator.

I'm going to go ahead and tell you to watch it.  Because Salinger is an eccentric and astounding artist.  That said, expect silliness and low production quality.  And you may need to incorporate a few extra acts of kindness into your week to karmically repent for being part of the exploitation of a life that was intentionally kept completely private while it was being lived.

Most irritating repeated graphics: the single picture of salinger that they seem to have (pictured above); the typewriting, cigarette smoking actor.
Most moving moment: Salinger's wartime friend, near the end of his life, who describes with such honest horror what his life is like having lived through WWII.
Most exciting revelation:  That an entire body of Salinger's work will likely be released prior to 2020 (not the 4 images of Salinger walking from the post office in 2010 that the producers treat as relevatory).

(And here is The New Yorker review.)