Director: Shane Salerno
Year Released: 2013
In an effort to shed light on the late novelist Jerome David Salinger - best known for his masterpiece The Catcher in the Rye - Salerno brings together many people who knew him best, including his exes and literary associates. The first half is pure hagiography, declaring him the best writer since God channeled the Gospel writers before turning the tables with the second half, dragging out ugly criticism by the likes of his daughter, Margaret, and former partner Joyce Maynard and suggesting Catcher is a blue-print for homicidal maniacs (... really?). In trying to 'expose' a man who relished privacy, Salerno is doing a Salinger a massive disservice: he was a complicated, tortured perfectionist who didn't want to answer convoluted questions from people about how to live their lives, and this 'documentary' feels like an affront against a man who, if alive, would have found such an effort appalling (and probably sued to prevent it from being released). One of Salinger's fears was that he was too 'middle-brow,' and I regretfully concur with this - though there have been efforts in hunting down similarly reclusive Thomas Pynchon, who is the preeminent high-brow proto-recluse (I'm told he likes rock concerts, so there's that). Whether or not Pynchon will be as widely read as Salinger in 50+ years remains to be seen (I can only hope).