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Drinking with Salinger

September 10, 2013 | by


On Sunday, I saw Salinger. Having seen the trailer, not to mention the posters, my companions and I had reason to expect a certain degree of bombast. As such, we came armed with skepticism and whiskey, hoping to hear some interesting interviews, see some neat archival footage, and learn a little something in the bargain. What we learned is that you cannot go into this movie without a highly organized game plan. 

I will not attempt a review of Salinger; plenty of people much smarter and better qualified than I have done so already. What I can do, by way of a public service, is extend the following warnings to anyone who would attempt to play a drinking game while watching Salinger, because it is a road fraught with peril.

We entered into the experience with a level of naivete that, today, seems laughable. We had only one half-formed rule: whenever anyone on screen says “recluse,” everyone takes a drink. Alas! Within fifteen minutes we had depleted the miniature bottle of whiskey I had recently been given in a gift bag. The documentary clocks in at 129 minutes. On the other hand, sufficient supplies would have left us supine and slack-jawed. In order to help other moviegoers, my companions and I quickly compiled a list of warnings.

If one wishes to play a drinking game while watching Salinger, and wishes to avoid illness, potential alcohol poisoning, or complete inebriation, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do the following:

  • Drink whenever a random actor inexplicably says something with tremendous authority.
  • Drink whenever a random actor or writer whose career is based in areas completely unrelated to the writing and/or criticism of fiction holds forth with tremendous authority from an empty movie theater, an empty five-star restaurant, or the back of a moving vehicle.
  • Drink whenever one hears the sounds of typewriter keys, presumably hard at work on mysterious manuscript that will eventually be imprisoned in vault.
  • Drink whenever a reenactor who looks nothing like J. D. Salinger sits around being tortured by the world/humanity/horrors of war.
  • Drink whenever horrors of war are indicated with literal battlefield sound effects.
  • Drink whenever a structure commonly referred to as a “house” is described as a “bunker.”
  • Drink whenever you see a covered bridge.
  • Drink whenever someone who harassed J. D. Salinger talks with a total lack of embarrassment about bothering him.
  • Drink when you start to feel exactly the way you did when you first saw Bambi and realized you were Man and evil and you hated yourself and humanity (which is what is really scary about Bambi, not just the shooting). 

You may drink in the following circumstances:

  • When you discover WHAT HAPPENED TO J. D. SALINGER.

Prepared in consultation with Matthew Colvard, Taylor Anne Lane, and Peter Wolfgang.




  1. Joe Carlson | September 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    If there’s one thing I hate, Sadie, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me. Look at my brother D.B., out there in Hollywood being a prostitute and all. Yeah, he’s got a Jaguar. One of those lithe English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He’s got a lot of dough, now. So what? He’s like that little kid in his story that wouldn’t let anybody look at his goldfish because he’d bought it with his own money. Look, or god forbid, touch his Jaguar and he gets about two hemorrhages! D.B. asked me what I thought about all this stuff. I didn’t know what the hell to say. I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

5 Pingbacks

  1. […] man likevel skulle velge å se den, har jeg derimot stor tro på at The Paris Reviews Sadie Steins drikkelek (som hun forøvrig selv advarer noen mot å prøve) kan komme til å redde […]

  2. […] all these tepid reviews, and not to mention The Paris Review's drinking game for the film, I am not shocked. Shane's documentary shoots fish in a barrel and takes cheap shots. […]

  3. […] Brooklyn (for Jonathan Lethem) [WSJ] New poetry emerges from Syrian war. Good news? [AlJazeera] Play the J. D. Salinger documentary drinking game [Paris Review] You got to be in it to win it (middle class status, that is) [Village Voice] New […]

  4. […] But don’t take my word for it — The Paris Review has come up with a drinking game to help you make it through the experience of watching Salinger. Click here to read the priceless instructions. […]

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