Salinger paints an interesting portrait of an enigmatic man

“Writing Holden was a mistake.” J.D. Salinger

Recently watched the documentary Salinger, about the famed reclusive writer of Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger. while it has received mixed reviews with critics, I found it to be an interesting work… especially when it recounted how he shunned both fame and his family. The movie tries, through interviews and reenactments, to explain this behavior but eventually fails because… well, the man never explained it himself.

I guess I don’t mind not knowing, because I’m a firm believer in the individual and his or her right to do whatever the heck he wants to do in life, as long as they do not harm another human being. Of course, Salinger DID harm other human beings – mostly family. He was never a good father, and felt more comfortable fighting his demons in front of a typewriter than confronting parenthood or love.

I can sympathize – one of my favorite quotes from the film is from a letter he wrote one of his many romances, and it explains a lot. “I’m up to my ears in unwritten words.” He had to get those words OUT, and that need was everything. His family, his lovers… they came second.

Again, as a writer… I understand.

Here’s the trailer, which will give you a taste of the approach the filmmakers took to dramatize his life. It’s available streaming on Netflix – do check it out.