Shane Salerno Video Interview On ‘Salinger,’ ‘Catcher In The Rye’ Sequel
Director Shane Salerno offers an intimate look at J.D. Salinger in his documentary Salinger. The film reveals for the first time that Salinger wrote for almost half a century in self-imposed solitary confinement, producing four unpublished books, including a sequel to The Catcher In The Rye. “What he’s really been doing for all of these years of writing only for himself, locked away, is creating the story of these two extraordinary families, the Glass family and the Caulfield family,” Salerno told Uinterview exclusively. “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.”
Salerno reveals that it was Salinger’s religion that inspired his decision to become a recluse. “J.D. Salinger had an extraordinary devotion to the Vedanta religion. In 1965, fulfilling the third tenant of his religion, withdraw from society, he left the world but kept writing for himself every day for 45 years.”
Salinger also relates the author’s obsession with young women, which Salerno explains resulted from falling in love with Oona O’Neill, daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill and future wife of screen legend Charlie Chaplin, as a teenager. “That relationship, which Salinger never recovered from, 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.”
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Over the course of a 10 year investigation making this film, we found two separate independent sources who had actually seen this work and were able to tell us what's coming down the road and among those works are continuations of both his signature Glass family stories and signature Caulfield stories. So what he's 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. 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.
In irregular installments beginning in 2015 to 2020, so this is all specified at great length at the end of our film and also at the end of our book. There's no precedent for this in history. I mean, no writer of J.D. Salinger's size or weight has ever written for four and a half decades entirely for himself, only to publish that work posthumously. If the work delivers the signature Salinger voice, he's going to have the greatest second act that any writer's ever had in history.
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. And J.D. Salinger was devoted to that ideal. And so in 1965, fulfilling the third tenant of his religion, withdraw from society, he left the world but kept writing for himself every day for 45 years.
J.D. Salinger's obsession with young women began in 1941 when he met an extraordinary 16-year-old girl named Oona O'Neill, the daughter of Eugene O'Neill. She was beautiful, she was the debutante of the year and between the ages of 16 and 18 she dated, if you can believe this, Peter Arnow, Orson Wells, J.D. Salinger, and then slightly after her 18th birthday, married Charlie Chaplin, who was then the most famous man in the world. And 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. And there's a woman who tells her story in our film for the first time who was 14 when she met Salinger and you see that he was fascinated by innocence, both in his work and in his life. He was fascinated by girls before they became... before they entered the adult world.
J.D. Salinger turned his back on celebrity before 'celebrity' even was 'celebrity.' He never wanted to be celebrated. When The Catcher in the Rye came out, he had a very soulful picture of himself on the back of the book and most writers would have left that on forever but he had it taken off. J.D. Salinger never sat for a real formal interview, he never did a book tour, he didn't pop up on the Oprah Book Club. He truly believed that all he owed the world was his work and that he should only be responsible for giving the world his work. He didn't want people to know about his life, he didn't want people to know any details about him. He felt that anything distracted from his work.