The life of one of the 20th century's most influential writers, J.D. Salinger, has always been a mystery. Despite becoming a literary rock star thanks to Catcher in the Rye, the author was also a recluse for 60 years. And up until his death in 2010, he fiercely prevented anything intimate from being written about him. But now, a brand new biography -- and PBS documentary set to air around January 2014 -- will shed light on Salinger's at times disturbing, extraordinary life.
Simon & Schuster has acquired The Private War of J.D. Salinger, an oral biography compiled by author David Sields and filmmaker-screenwriter Shane Salerno. They say it will "be the foundational book on one of the most beloved and most puzzling figures of the 20th century. ... Many of us who read The Catcher in the Rye have ... wished we could know the author better. Now, we finally can." Wow! Here, 5 strange, intriguing aspects of Salinger's life we're looking forward to learning more about ...
- World War II. Salinger was reportedly deeply scarred by his service during WWII, when he interrogated prisoners of war. It'll be interesting to see how this experience affected him and shaped his future.
- His first love. In 1941, he fell for 16-year-old Oona O'Neill, whom he had wished to marry, but she later wed Charlie Chaplin.
- His tumultuous marriage to Radcliffe student Claire Douglas. The two had two children together, Margaret and Matthew. In the winter of 1957, a disturbed Claire went "over the edge" and had made plans to murder her 13-month-old infant and then commit suicide. Ugh! Thankfully, she didn't follow through.
- His quest for spirituality and affinity for alternative therapies. After meeting L. Ron Hubbard and checking out Scientology, Salinger also explored Christian Science, Edgar Cayce, homeopathy, acupuncture, and macrobiotics.
- His Howard Hughes-ish behavior. According to his daughter Margaret, who wrote a memoir in 2000, Salinger drank urine and sat in an orgone box (which was supposed to promote health), while guarding his privacy with a shotgun and guard dogs behind high walls.
What do you hope the biography covers?
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