Salinger, Redonnet, Darrieussecq
  • Thomas Phillips


Several years ago, I was living just outside of San Francisco as an artist in residence where, on the final night of the residency, I met Joyce Maynard, a writer who had published a 1998 memoir about her relationship with J. D. Salinger when she was a teenager and he, considerably older and more accomplished. As they sometimes do, the liaison ended badly. Naturally, the book was scandalous in the eyes of many for whom Salinger’s reputation as a wise gentleman was being tarnished, though one could make the argument that her disclosure was an act of becoming-woman in the face of what was at the time (and perhaps remains today) a patriarchal institution— that is, the literary establishment. On the other hand, in publishing the memoir, Maynard may have behaved as a mere opportunist in search of financial gain at the expense of a beloved novelist. The truth of the matter is unknowable by most, though what is certain is that the “true life,” as DeLillo’s Elster would put it, that informs the minutiae of a young woman’s potential becoming-woman cannot be confined to a tell-all narrative and, as Salinger might say, entails an exceedingly robust appetite for self-effacement.


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© Thomas Phillips 2015

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  • Thomas Phillips

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