Salinger, the new documentary about J.D. Salinger, sheds light on the late author of The Catcher in the Rye’s prolific life as a recluse and the origin of his interest in girls who had yet to reach adulthood. The documentary’s director Shane Salerno described the information he unearthed to provide a revealing look at the private author in an exclusive interview with Uinterview.

Salinger published his final original work in 1965 and subsequently retreated, never to produce any more work intended for the public eye. Unbeknownst to those who hungered for more of his writing, the author continued to develop the characters his readers had cared so much about. “So what he’d really been doing for all of these years, for 45 years, if you can believe this, of writing only for himself, locked away, is creating the story of these two extraordinary families, the Glass family and the Caulfield family,” Salerno revealed.

“And those are the masterworks for which we will know Salinger, and in the Caulfield case, that does include continuing some of the stories in The Catcher in the Rye.”


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“It was a strange phenomenon for a writer of Salinger’s talent and appeal to not only shun celebrity, but to quit his career as a writer altogether. The decision was ultimately a product of his faith. “J.D. Salinger had an extraordinary devotion to the Vedanta religion and among many beliefs in the Vedanta religion is that you are to do your work without seeking any reward of any kind, that you are to do the work for the work’s sake,” Salerno told Uinterview. “And J.D. Salinger was devoted to that ideal. And so in 1965, fulfilling the third tenant of his religion, withdraw from society.”

After having published his first short story, but roughly a decade before The Catcher in the Rye was published, Salinger dated socialite Oona O’Neil – the teenage daughter of Eugene O’Neil, who dated Orson Wells before him and married Charlie Chaplin after him. “That relationship, which Salinger never recovered from, never recovered from losing her, imprinted upon him a girl, not a woman, a girl at a very specific age, on the cusp of womanhood and he was forever fascinated with girls at that age,” observed Salerno. “He was fascinated by girls before they entered the adult world.”

Salinger’s posthumously published work will be released in installments from 2015 to 2020. The documentary is currently in limited release.

– Chelsea Regan

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