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Posts Tagged ‘J. D. Salinger’

Letters from Jerry

September 4, 2013 | by

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Last Sunday, a ninety-four-year-old man appeared outside my door. His name, he said in a deep German accent, was Werner Kleeman. He had come all the way up to Washington Heights from Queens to celebrate the birthday of his cousin down the hall. He was invited. He is certain of the date. But his cousin is not there.

Severely hard of hearing, with no cell phone nor ride home, Werner slumps in a folding chair a neighbor brought, marooned. When he rises, he sways woozily, perspiring in his dapper suit. My husband takes one look and gets the car. Once on the Cross-Bronx Expressway, Werner revives and tells the story of his life.

Born in Bavaria, he had been interned in a concentration camp. But he was able to produce a visa to the U.S., and, as was still possible then, at the start of the war, he was freed. He emigrated to New York, and then returned to fight the Nazis as an American soldier. Stateside, he made a modest living in a unique niche—hospital drapery. His wife passed away three decades ago. Since then, he’s lived alone. This trip is his first outing in weeks. “Now!” he chortles raucously as we near his street. “To my museum! You will not believe your eyes. I can show you things like you have never seen!”

Werner’s museum, it turns out, is a low-ceilinged, jumbled Flushing bungalow where he has resided for the last sixty-two years. He leads us through the cramped rooms, playing tour guide to a host of treasures: a dented spice box rescued from the desecrated synagogue in his native village; scenes by a famed sketch artist from the European front; a framed proclamation of honor for his self-published 2007 memoir, From Dachau to D-Day, signed by now-rival mayoral candidates John Liu and Christine Quinn.

As we try to say goodbye, Werner blocks our exit, brandishing a packaged coffee cake. “I have decided,” he announces, as if to himself. “Kind people, educated people. Yes. Why not?” He puts on water for tea, takes my hand, and draws me into a shaded back office from which he carefully withdraws a file. “You have heard,” he enquires, “of the writer J. D. Salinger? Letters from my friend Jerry.” We sit down. Read More »

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New Salinger, and Other News

August 26, 2013 | by

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  • We like this slideshow of images from the Hargeisa International Book Fair, but are somewhat confused by the headline “Somaliland goes crazy for books.”
  • According to the upcoming Salinger documentary, the famous recluse instructed his estate to publish at least five posthumous books, starting in 2015.
  • When he was a carpenter, Harrison Ford worked on Joan Didion’s beach house. Says she, “I was happy with his work—and even happier with his presence in the house because he was a great moral force.” He’ll present her with a lifetime achievement award at the PEN Center USA dinner in October.
  • Here are all of Elmore Leonard’s opening lines.
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    Parks and Prejudice, and Other News

    July 11, 2013 | by

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  • This speaks for itself: Pride and Prejudice mashed up with Parks and Recreation.
  • Take this (anonymous) survey: What books do you pretend to have read?
  • Shockingly, famously gregarious joiner J. D. Salinger was no fan of book clubs.
  • Speaking of! The Catcher in the Rye and twenty-seven other books that Buzzfeed deems red flags.
  • Windsor Castle is seeking “an exceptional scholar and bibliophile” to manage the Royal Library.
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    Undiscovered Joyce Title? And Other News

    June 17, 2013 | by

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  • An Irish press is publishing a collection of ten short pieces by James Joyce, calling it “almost certainly the last undiscovered title” by the author. But did Joyce want them published at all? Scholars choose sides.
  • Speaking of cashing in, “for a day celebrating a book many admit to never having read, Bloomsday is a brilliant piece of marketing.”
  • Harvard’s Graduate School of Design has started something nifty called the Library Test Kitchen, dedicated to preserving libraries with new design concepts. Student designs are displayed in—wait for it—a “Labrary.”
  • After bedbugs were detected in the environs of the Chappaqua Library, a bedbug-sniffing dog was provided to case books from a recent library sale. “If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere,” declared one mom (whose new set of Harry Potter was cleared by the beagle).
  • Without further ado: the trailer for Salinger.
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    What We’re Loving: Rilke, Revolution, and Wild Places

    May 17, 2013 | by

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    Even if you’ve been reading Janet Malcolm for years, the critical appreciations collected in Forty-one False Starts may surprise you. The title essay is (or pretends to be) a series of scrapped beginnings to her profile of the painter David Salle, a giant of the art world in vulnerable mid-career. If you want to write magazine prose, this alone should make you buy the book. Ranging from Bloomsbury to Edward Weston to J.D. Salinger, the entire book is full of stylistic daring, fine distinctions, and bold judgments set down at the speed of thought. —Lorin Stein

    The Emperor’s Tomb was the last novel Joseph Roth wrote. Michael Hofmann, whose versions of Roth are all unsettlingly good—more like inhabitations than translations—calls it a “valedictory repertoire of Rothian tropes and characters”: Viennese cafés, feckless and frivolous young men, the call-up to war, the end of Empire, the never-ending nostalgia for Empire. If you’ve read Roth before, you’ll enjoy the new variations on old themes; if you haven’t read Roth, start with The Radetsky March. You won’t want it to end and when it does, reading The Emperor’s Tomb will bring it all back. —Robyn Creswell Read More »

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    Salinger Letters, and Other News

    April 25, 2013 | by

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    • “You can’t go around buying Cadillacs on what the small mags pay, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?” A new cache of letters by young J. D. Salinger comes to light. 
    • Granta editor John Freeman is leaving the magazine to teach. 
    • Edward de Grazia, a lawyer and free-speech advocate who defended both Tropic of Cancer and Naked Lunch, has died at eighty-six. 
    • The strange mystery of the stolen books of Lambeth Palace
    • The Library of Congress (sort of) comes to terms with eBooks. 

     

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