In Search of J. D. Salinger

Ian Hamilton, Author Random House (NY) $17.95 (222p) ISBN 978-0-394-53468-8
This embattled biography has been revised because of the legal suit Salinger instituted to stop publication, and the most valuable part of the book is Hamilton's proud and indignant exposition of those long proceedings, torturous to him and endangering, he feels, to Constitutional freedoms. At issue were Salinger's unpublished letters, and Hamilton is rightly disturbed by the fact that, in covering the case, newspapers and magazines were able to print the very correspondence he was restricted from using. He wonders: ``Can we assume that the letters have been released into the public domain, that they are no longer `unpublished' ? Would the Random House lawyers now let me put them back into my book?'' The answer is no, and in its spelling out of Salinger's ``writing life'' (even in his original version, Hamilton only chronicled that life up to 1965, when Salinger stopped publishing), the biography is a dry, adequate chronology of publication dates and landmark events that lacks passion and driveperhaps the natural result of recounting a life so obsessively removed from engagement with the world. Within the text, Hamilton refers to himself and his biographer ``alter ego'' as ``we,'' an affectation that distracts the reader. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Paperback - 222 pages - 978-0-679-72220-5
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