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Salinger's first and only full-length novel is the one that made him famous. Crass, hypochondriac, sensitive, and suffering, Holden Caulfield is one of American literature's most enduring characters. Everyone is required to read this book before graduating from, well, life. If you don't, you're a goddamn phony.
This book contains exactly what the title says it does—nine short stories, seven of which had already been published, and two that had never been. Salinger's second book introduces us to the Glass family, the talented tribe of precocious children who populate his later fiction. It also contains the story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," which made The New Yorker first sit up and pay attention to this fresh, emerging writer.
This book consists of two long stories, one about Franny Glass, the other about her sister Zooey Glass. Critics didn't love the book when it first came out, but some reviewers now believe the stories to be among his best work. For Salinger fans, the saga of the Glass family is always a compelling one.
Biographer Ian Hamilton went searching for J.D. Salinger; what he found instead was a lawsuit. Salinger resisted Hamilton's attempts to profile him for the book and, when Hamilton discovered a cache of the writer's old letters in university archives, Salinger sued to prevent him from using them in the book. In the end, Hamilton was allowed to paraphrase but not quote the material. After finishing the book, Hamilton remarked that the next time he wrote a biography, "The subject would have to be very, very dead."_CITATION22_
In 1972, young writer Joyce Maynard published an autobiographical essay in The New York Times Magazine. She then began to exchange letters with Salinger, who initiated the correspondence, and they soon became lovers. Maynard was 18 and Salinger was 53. We don't imagine he was particularly happy when she decided to describe the details of their affair in this memoir.
J.D. Salinger stopped speaking to his daughter after he learned that she was planning to write this memoir. Margaret Salinger describes her father as an odd duck who was suspicious of doctors, controlling of their mother, and prone to following new, esoteric religions. (For the record, Margaret's brother Matt has publicly refuted his sister's account of their childhood.)