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."