Cover image for Salinger, a biography
Salinger, a biography
Alexander, Paul, 1955-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Los Angeles, Calif. : Renaissance Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 351 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3537.A426 A44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3537.A426 A44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3537.A426 A44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
PS3537.A426 A44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The first full-length account of the life of this most reclusive author is based on careful research, which includes both published sources and interviews with other literary figures, and connects Salinger's experiences with his work.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

From the author of the fancifully titled Boulevard of Broken Dreams (1994) on the life of James Dean, comes this plainly titled, johnny-come-lately with its amply leaded pages (except for the index) sans illustrations. It's what we lived for. --Bonnie Smothers

Library Journal Review

This biography's dustjacket features a blurry photo of an aging J.D. Salinger superimposed on a picture of the young author of The Catcher in the Rye. While designed to capture the elusive quality of the notoriously reclusive writer, the jacket also reflects the book's fuzziness and skimpy feel. Although Alexander, who wrote a biography of Sylvia Plath, interviewed a number of people and used the research files of Ian Hamilton (In Search of J.D. Salinger) and the newly opened New Yorker archive at the New York Public Library, the result is primarily a cut-and-paste pastiche of secondary sources. This is not entirely Alexander's fault; like Hamilton, whose attempt to publish a biography was thwarted in the courts by Salinger, Alexander was unable to quote directly from Salinger's letters, and of course the man himself has long refused to be interviewed. Still, Alexander has drawn an eerie portrait of an increasingly eccentric writer whose attempts to maintain his privacy is actuallyÄin Alexander's opinionÄa manipulative way of promoting himself and his books.ÄWilda Williams, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Despite its informal, unsophisticated style and occasional writing errors, Alexander's volume is a major publishing event. The author based the biography partly on sources unavailable to earlier biographers--Warren French, author of J.D. Salinger (1963; rev. ed., CH, Sep'76) and J.D. Salinger, Revisited (1988), and Ian Hamilton, author of In Search of J.D. Salinger (CH, Feb'89). Salinger and the courts thwarted Hamilton's earlier efforts to publish A Writing Life, a more revealing biography using personal letters but making 1965 the cutoff date. A skilled investigative reporter, journalist, and biographer, Alexander surveyed numerous archives, including Princeton's (where Hamilton deposited his research file) and The New Yorker's, going to great lengths (even to Salinger's village, Cornish, New Hampshire) to get his "story." Salinger emerges as a fiercely independent recluse victimized by editors, publishers, and an intrusive public; acutely responsive to girls and younger women; overly charismatic to certain types of people, including impressionable females (partly because of his stories)--in short, a dedicated writer now writing only for himself, a much-married but seemingly unlivable husband, contentedly lost in his own story-universe. Strongly recommended for all sophisticated academic and general audiences. S. I. Bellman; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona