Just out of plain old curiousity, has anyone seen the documentary out
for a while now on J. D. Salinger? It is, to put it in non-critical
terms, not exactly an upper; and while I went to it expecting some dirty
laundry to be aired, getting it full force for an hour and forty-five
minutes was not what I bargained for. One, or at least this one, feels
rather queasy on leaving the theatre with that much negativity to digest.
The semi-on topic part is that about midway through, the narrator
reported that Salinger was adamant that a reader of his stories or of
any fiction/poetry does not need to know anything about the author's
life to get the story (or poem or artwork). The documentary, of course,
made many lines of connection between Salinger's life and events or
characters in his stories. To be sure, knowing now what he went through
in WWII adds to my appreciation of the background, and in some cases
foreground, of Nine Stories.
My Eliot prof., Eric Thompson, used Nine Stories in the senior seminar
course I took with him on literary theory. It was quite eye opening, as
it seemed to me then that he got more out of those stories than other
profs got out of the giants of literature. And all without referring to
Salinger's life, though he did refer to his own WWII experience in
relation to "returning with your faculties intact."