J. D. SalingerJerome David Salinger is an American author best known for writing The Catcher in the Rye, considered one of the best books of the 20th century.
Born January 1, 1919 in New York City, Salinger began his writing career writing short stories for magazines in New York. While a lot of his writing was written with a view of making money, a few stories - most notably A Perfect Day for Bananafish, which starred Seymour Glass, stood out. He also published two episodes from what would become The Catcher in the Rye before he had to leave America to join the War - I'm Crazy and Slight Rebellion Off Madison. Some people speculate that Salinger was afraid that his death in the war might mean the end of the story he'd been thinking about since the early 1940s.
His writing was interrupted for a few years by World War II, where he saw combat action in some of the fiercest fighting in World War II. This emotionally scarred him, and a wrote a number of books about war, most notably For Esme - With Love and Squalor, which draws on his wartime experience and is narrated by a traumatized soldier.
His first novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published in 1951 and became hugely popular both among critics and young readers. It is a classic coming-of-age novel told by a disturbed, immature but insightful teenager named Holden Caulfield.
J.D. Salinger also wrote Franny and Zooey (1961) and Raise High the Roof-Beam, Carpenters and Seymour -- An Introduction (the two being published together in 1963) as well as other short stories (collected in the book Nine Stories).
A major theme in Salinger's work is the agile but powerful mind of disturbed young men, and the redemptive capacity of children in the lives of such men.
After the literary fame and notoriety of The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger became a recluse. He moved from New York to Cornish, New Hampshire where he continues to write novels but not to publish them.
Salinger has tried to escape public exposure and attention as much as possible ("A writer's feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him." ~Salinger). But he constantly struggles with the unwanted attention he gets as a cult figure. On learning of an author's intention to publish J. D. Salinger: A Writing Life, a biography including letters Salinger had written to other authors and friends, Salinger sued to stop the book's publication. The book was finally published with the letters' contents paraphrased; the court ruled that though a person may own a letter physically; the language within it belongs to the author.
An unintended result of the lawsuit was that many details of Salinger's private life, including that he had written two novels and many stories but left them unpublished, became public in the form of court transcripts.
A year-long affair in 1972 with eighteen year old aspiring writer Joyce Maynard also became the source of controversy when she put his letters to him up for auction.
In 1999, Salinger released his first new novel in thirty-four years - Hapworth 16, 1924, first published in The New Yorker as a short story in 1965. The novel will eventually be published by Orchises Press, a small publishing company. It has not appeared in print yet.
In 2000, his daughter, Margaret Salinger, by his second wife Claire Douglas, published "Dream Catcher: A Memoir." In her "tell-all" book, Ms. Salinger stated that her father drank his own urine, spoke in tongues, rarely had sex with her mother, keeping her "a virtual prisoner" and refusing to allow her to see friends or relatives.