“Salinger,” a documentary on the life and seclusion of author J.D. Salinger by Shane Salerno, debuted in theaters this weekend. Salinger had refused to publish anything after his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, and spent more than forty years in exile from the public eye.
Kenneth Turan, film critic with the L.A. Times, said that the documentary shows that it was Salinger’s devotion to his work that made him shun the limelight. “He wasn’t really a recluse,” Turan said. “He just really wanted to pick and choose the moments when he would see people.”
“He really wanted to just be writing, and anyone who has, does, creative work will understand this,” he said. “There are kind of the day-to-day pressures that keep you from your work, and he found a way to be in a position where he didn’t have to deal with those.”
The documentary gives audiences a glimpse into what influenced Salinger’s writing, including his experience in World War II helping to liberate a concentration camp. But the intrusion into Salinger’s privacy ruined the author’s myster, Turan said.
“I really didn’t want to know that much,” he said. “It made me kind of sad to see this edifice that he constructed kind of crumble.”