Living with J. D. Salinger, Author of The Catcher in the Rye (2000)

introduce you to Joyce Maynard Joyce and I go way back we figure that it's about 22 years because um Joyce's daughter Audrey was an infant when Joyce interviewed me for the New York Times Magazine of course I already knew who she was I'd read her first memoir looking back Joyce was the enfant Arab of American journalism I lived in New Mexico far from any hip literary crowd far from any literary crowd um I barely knew any other writers she was 23 I was 40 I was dreading the interview and yet something wonderful happened that day long before I ever read a word of what Joyce wrote about me we bonded we were soul sisters mothers writers um struggling young women and ever since we've been good friends I have read everything that Joyce has written over the years from her charming witty often poignant newspaper columns to her smart funny often emotional novels for years we've corresponded sometimes sharing our most intimate feelings and yet Joyce never once mentioned having known Salinger I heard it from a literary agent because Salinger and I shared the same literary agency I didn't believe him I called Joyce and asked if it was true she said I never talked about that and she never did not to me today however she is here to share with you her point of view my friend Joyce Manor I guess I need that mic thank you so much Judy it's M I I don't think we've ever shared a stage together it's a real treat I was thinking so many aspects of Judy's introduction I felt a need to respond to starting with that all font area phrase which over the 20-some years that passed evolved into what I was called most recently last last year when this book was published aging nymphet that's not the worst of it I also want to correct you Judy in one in when you've corrected youth you pronounce my name correctly but thank God you have not read everything I've written it would be a very poor idea to do that I've I'm one of that tiny little group that has completely has never had a job in her life actually I had one job when I was 22 years old and never again and it doesn't mean that I've been living off of a trust fund it means that I've been working as a freelance writer supporting my family as a writer for almost 30 years now which means that you write an awful lot of very unmemorable prose and I'm glad that you Judy have forgotten it or haven't run into it my assessment of various brands of sports bras in in fitness magazine you probably never got around you and I'm not ashamed to say that at a literary festival because it is possible to be both a a working writer and a person who approaches writing as a job and also somebody who aspires to art and and sometimes accomplishes it and and when she doesn't pays the bills and I make no apology about having been the first and I hope on occasion the second you know I had planned to spend about the first 45 minutes of our but I consider our precious time together today telling my story and then leaving about 15 minutes for questions after yesterday's presentations and hearing the the moving a glorious work of the writers that that have been speaking to us all I decided not to do that I actually I was sitting in the audience last night listening to an Chi Minh and feeling my god what do I have to say and my guess is that probably there may have been because I'm sure there are people in this group who are working on memoir or some form of memoir themselves and and were there some of you who were feeling that oh goodness I wasn't I didn't escape from China and have 50 leeches in my foot and and and have my friend commit suicide what do I possibly have to say and so I want to among other things address and reassure you on that point that without knowing your stories I can say with absolute certainty you do have something to say when I was little and I used to have hard times or what I thought were hard times and I'd be crying I'd go to my mother she would say to me out of the best intentions in the world I'm sure she'd say well at least you aren't in a concentration camp i this didn't really cheer me up and I guess it's sort of you know the way it made me feel very guilty it made me feel that short of that I had no reason to to complain or have a problem and we all do have a reason of course and we all do have a story however small and a and I wanted to say first before we get into anything else that the measure of a good memoir is not necessarily although my god wonderful memoirs have been written by those people who have suffered extraordinary pain is not necessarily having endured indescribable pain the measure of a good memoir I believe is is honesty and authenticity about whatever it is that your experience was I will add for those of you who have endured extraordinary pain that this is the little fringe benefit of having had a horrible childhood that it does put you a little ahead of the path as a writer and and for those four people in this audience who actually did have a happy childhood you too also can overcome that adversity and write a good memoir as I said I really I decided not to spend a lot of time talking about my story because I want to hear from you but just to give you some idea of what we might talk about I'm going to give you an incredibly condensed version of the story that I tell in my book at home in the world a book which I am so sorry to say has sold out in that bookstore so I know you're going to go straight to your or better yet your independent bookseller and get it so I just want you to kind of trust me that mine also was a sad story not not a hopeless story but but I think almost by definition part of the exploration of memoir is to explore the painful discordant parts of our experience and I find that mine always begins with the same sentence whatever else changes in my telling and as I said this is going to be a very brief one my first sentence is always I grew up in an alcoholic family and for those of you who did you will probably know that there are two painful aspects of that experience and only one is the parents drinking and the other and it's not universally true but it's usually the case is the keeping of the secret of your parents drinking and in my case I would actually name that as the more painful experience we we had a daytime life in our family and a nighttime life I actually and by day my father was a brilliant funny erudite extraordinarily dramatic and exciting artist and teacher a man who had most of English poetry committed to memory and recited it at a moment's notice intimately acquainted with the Bible and literature and the history of art who could recreate any of the old masters on the sand at a gun quit beach when I was a little girl then watch the waves wash in and and dub and wash them all away again by night my father climbed the stairs to our attic and drank a great deal of vodka and I truly believed that we were the only family in the world who had this problem because we never talked about it this was if my parents were both extraordinarily articulate people people who loved language above all else that was really the religion in our household and our dinner table conversation was all about art and literature and politics and philosophy and music and poetry there was one subject never mentioned and that was anything to do with my father's drinking people from AAA circles no doubt know the phrase the elephant in the living room you know and because of that I felt this was this terrible shameful secret that I must never let anybody find out which established a very early pattern of if not deception inauthenticity in communication and in relationships if you can't talk about the most important thing in your life you'd better not get too close to anybody and and and that was precisely what happened to me including was my own sister really and as something that a problem that probably I'd have to stay indoors to this day as a result of that no fault of either of our own so I grew up with the this enormous discordance II between the way life really was and the way I wanted to present it to the world I used to watch situation comedies on television like a student I wanted to know what normal life was these were the the shows of you know the 1950s and 60s of father knows best and Leave It to Beaver and Donna Reed and I actually thought that that's what everybody else's life was like and there was something terribly wrong with me that mine was not like that another aspect of growing up in an alcoholic family er I think any troubled family any family where there is heartbreak in the parents is this incredible desire to make their lives better and in a sense a kind of burden of responsibility that the that you are the one to do it in my case both of my parents were themselves brilliant and gifted artists totally sidelined in their own artistic lives my mother a PhD from Harvard hood as a woman of the 50s had never been able to get a job other than tutoring Latin at $1 an hour and selling encyclopedias door-to-door my father a very gifted artist and writer who was who was in a dead-end job as a junior professor at the University of New Hampshire for his entire career and I felt I knew that it was my job to earn the kind of recognition and approval that had eluded my parents I was an obnoxiously ambitious little girl I can't remember ever being so young that I didn't start the day with a to-do list and my to-do list you know had items like write and opera paint a mural choreograph a ballet I was all over the map when I was about nine years old I wrote a letter to the president of CBS television to let him know that if the little girl for those of you who are 46 years old in this crowd you might remember the name of the actress Angela Cartwright if Angela Cartwright was ever incapacitated in her playing her role as Danny Thomas's daughter and make room for daddy I was available at a moment's notice to replace her I lived in a small town in New Hampshire never got the call and so I my fallback route to success and recognition and approval and New York City which is where I always wanted to get to I didn't know about Key West then or whatever was writing as I said our family's religion was language and and so the way other people played sports we sat around and wrote and read our work out loud to our parents who who applied a more demanding standard than I have ever encountered in the office of any New York editor and this was at the age of eight or nine you know my parents red pen and yellow legal pad Corrections so I began sending off my manuscripts to writing contests and magazines when I was six or seven or eight began writing for seventeen when I was about 14 publishing my work in 17 and when I went off to college and college of course had to be the very best college I could get into and that was Yale in those days I took a bunch of my clippings from 17 mailed them off to the editor-in-chief of the New York Times with a letter that said it's same style as the old letter to CBS would you like me to write for you and I was 17 years old at the time and interestingly enough he wrote back and said okay and gay gave me an assignment to write a piece about what it was like to be a young person in 1972 by this time I turned 18 the piece was published in the New York Times Magazine in April of 1972 I remember the date very well because it was a date that changed my life there was an enormous color photograph of me on the cover of the magazine that morning and within three days there were three enormous stacks of mail on the steps outside my dormitory room and every kind of offer and opportunity that I had sought out so assiduously all my long 18 years were contained in those sacks letters from editors and publishers and radio producers and TV producers I was there was even a movie director who wanted me to try out for his film The Exorcist I obviously did not get the part but it was a pretty I think it would be a heady thing even for a 45 year old it was an extraordinarily heady experience for an 18 year old girl from a small town in New Hampshire and I might have supposed that my ship had come in and that the the rest of my life was now the red carpet had been rolled before me except that in among those letters was another letter of a very different sort and this was the letter a letter of warning really a letter telling me a letter first of all the person who wrote it seemed to be a to be in possession of almost magic powers and that was something I came to believe of him later because he said you know I bet you've got sacks of mail outside your dormitory room filled with letters from book editors and radio producers and TV producers and people wanting you to try out for their movies and I'm thinking my god how did he know and I want to tell you to be careful I really loved that piece in the New York Times I think you're a real writer I know something about the the perils of enormous early success people will try to exploit you interesting interesting phrase because over many years later I came to realize that probably no person had done that more successfully than the author of this letter ultimately people will hurt you and try to exploit you and I want to tell you to guard your talent carefully because I believe that we you and I are kindred spirits the phrase he used was a Yiddish phrase that was a very powerful phrase particularly to a girl who had felt like such an outsider all her life Lance it means you come from the same little shtetl in the old country and he and I he said were Landsman the letter was signed JD Salinger well I was probably less aware of the work of Salinger than most other students at the Yale campus that or any other spring I was a TV watcher not a reader I come from this highly intellectual household but I was most conversant with the episodes of Donna Reed and father knows best but I did know that that was a pretty important thing to get a letter from JD Salinger who even way back in 1972 was a recluse and most of all I knew that this person was my soul mate I did not identify him as a romantic figure in my life I was in a stunningly naive and inexperienced eighteen year old girl I had kissed one boy in my life I recognized this person simply as my friend my friend and teacher and mentor and embarked on a correspondence with Jerry Salinger in the spring of what came to be my one and only year of college that April no big surprise and and almost from the moment that I did the rest of the world fell away friends Emily ambitions in New York City I cared only for the hour of the day and I knew just when it was when the mail would be delivered to the Yale post-office and I would get my letter from Jerry and for any of you you know who and I'm sure most of you have read Catcher in the Rye and know the power of that voice of Holden Caulfield and the power that that character has had on now many generations of young people who believed that this was the first person who ever understood them that was the voice that came to me in but in longhand whispering in my ear telling me that I was the most perfect wonderful girl the most talented the most brilliant the most unique that he had ever encountered and that he and I were destined as I said to be soul mates not surprisingly I felt a need to go and see him when school got out and not right away I'd actually been offered a job that summer at the New York Times a reader of my first article had offered me rent-free use of an apartment on Central Park West I had a contract to write my first daughter biography which I was supposed to deliver very fast before I got to be too old in those days too old was 19 but within weeks of meeting Jerry Salinger I had withdrawn from Yale I had quit my job at the New York Times left the house on Central Park West told almost nobody where I was going and moved in with Jerry Salinger who was then 53 years old believing that I would be with him forever believing with the kind of inexperienced a belief and trust that you probably have to be 18 years old or probably now younger to possess and questioning absolutely nothing that he told me absolutely nothing which I would say is one of the great differences between being an 18 year old in love and a 46 year old in love almost from the moment that I moved in with Jerry Salinger the idyllic relationship ended came crashing down the first day I moved in and I committed some minor offense he said you were acting like a teenager and I don't even mean to joke about it it was it was an impossible relationship as if I hadn't shouldn't have known it he surely should have during the course of that year I was I was ostensibly writing my autobiography that was to be published the next year by Doubleday but writing it in a very half-hearted way because Salinger had as you might have heard absolute contempt for publication he was manhood of course done thatalready and left it I had I had never done it and wanted it and hungered for it but knew that he disapproved of it and I was trying wildly to win his approval so I wrote the book in a very half-hearted way and and it's it's my least favorite of the books that I have written because of that I think it in the 160 pages of my first crack at a memoir I never got around to mentioning that I grew up in an alcoholic family one of the little details that I didn't include or that during the period when I was writing that book I was suffering from pretty profound eating disorders and above all never mentioned in this story that supposedly was written by The Anointed youth spokesperson of 1972 that I had dropped out of my Ivy League college to move in with my 53 now 54 year old lover who happened to be JD Salinger few little things you won't find in that book which is now out of print but quite a collectible I I gather well three weeks before that book was due to be published I saw no connection between these events at the time but I surely do now on a vacation to Florida as it happens to Daytona Beach with Jerry and his two children who were just a few years younger than I on a beach in Daytona Jerry looked at me from our parallel towels and said I think you better go home now clear your things out of the house have everything gone by the time the children and I get back he put me in a cab with a couple of $50 bills and sent me away from his life forever but if he believed that he could get me out of his life so easily it was much less easy for me to get him out of mine I continue to believe not only in the months but really in the years that followed that the man who had expressed his contempt and disapproval for me was the wisest purest and best man I'd ever known and a far more valuable person than I would ever be although I continued to work as a writer into published books and did eventually get to New York City I felt a kind of disrespect for what I was doing because I knew for so long that it fell short of what salinger's standard for my behavior would have been and for many years I I will not describe myself as some kind of a sad sack who went shuffling through life I I'm married I raise children I think I did a pretty good job of it I supported a family I baked good pies I ran political campaign but in in in one way I I continued to feel deep shame and that was my sense that in the most significant moment in my life I had failed I had failed to win the approval of the person who I had so revered and I regarded my one remaining obligation as the obligation of keeping the secret of Salinger's place in my life and protecting him at whatever cost to myself I did over those years write and publish a great deal of work and I tried very hard in my writing to tell an honest story – I was for years writing a column about family life and although I was inhabiting a difficult and ultimately doomed marriage I I felt a responsibility not to leave some reader out there feeling the way I used to feel as a kid watching those perfect situation comedy families feeling what's wrong with me so I I tried to tell an honest story about many aspects of a woman's life I did ultimately explore my father's alcoholism difficulties in the reality of trying to be a woman raising young children and and having a career and holding on to a marriage and and then the the end of my marriage but always through all of those years there remained one story that I I felt I could not tell and my inability to that to tell that story colored all the other stories and and my ability to to make sense of everything that came afterwards and that was pretty much where I stood until three years ago when my own daughter Audrey turned the age that I was when Salinger first wrote to me and it was no longer a choice to explore this story on the story came back full in my face as unfinished business tends to do at one point or another and I for the first time in over 20 years re-examine the letters from Salinger and what that episode had meant and embarked on the writing of this memoir I I can tell you a whole lot more about that but I'm not going to I'm going to sort of wait and hear what you what interests you to explore I will just say that the the telling of that story and my book at home in the world is not confined only to that story but that story continued to reverberate through everything else that happened in my life the writing of that memoir was a wonderfully liberating experience people always ask me you know what was it cathartic to write your book well yes it was but my catharsis shouldn't cost you $25 or now 14.95 so if that's all it was it would have been best to stay in my in my dresser drawer I happen to believe that sometimes a a successful authentic examination of one's own story can be helpful to a reader in the examination of his or hers as well and I hope that's what I did as wonderful as the writing of this book was the publication I have to tell you was hell and I'm not ashamed to tell you in fact I'm rather proud that when at home in the world was published a year ago this last fall the Jonathan Yardley the critic for the Washington Post called this the worst book ever published I already told you about aging nymphet kiss-and-tell was another one I was charged with of course the invasion of Salinger's privacy and above all with with being a woman who couldn't keep her mouth shut one critic wrote Joyce Maynard isn't fit to take out JD Salinger's laundry and interesting an interesting prerequisite for writing a memoir you better you better be as good a writer as JD Salinger before you attempt it and I'd love to talk about all of those things but at the core what we're really talking about is of course a writers write and not just mine but that of everybody in this room to explore her story and to and that means not just to explore the stories of all the nice people that we've met and all the happy times that we've gone through but the very darkest ones I think I said the other day but I'm going to say it again because it is so important I think to consider that not a one of those critics ever said I don't believe what she said it doesn't sound true to me they said she shouldn't have talked about it and and that's something whether you read my book whether you care about my story or not that concerns everybody in this room not only everybody who is a writer but everybody who is a reader whether you truly want to live in a world where where a writer does not have permission to tell the complicated stories the shocking stories deliver bad news about some important person and it turns out and it seems to me directly in opposition to everything that young people are told to believe you know to that to talk about their experiences to trust to have faith to you know to come forward and certainly as writers everything that we're told to believe to to go to those hard places I don't actually want to say another thing right now I want to hear what's what's on your mind officially the topic today I believe is somebody can probably tell me but it has to do with hurting people's feelings and I suppose that this book probably did hurt JD Salinger's feelings actually more significantly in my mind I had to consider a lot of other characters in my life who who got a lot less press in the reviews of my book and that had to do with my parents my former husband the feelings of my children and I'm guessing that a lot of you who are writing your own stories are worrying about those things too so let's talk about it who's got something to just throw out yes oh right okay good I've been working for about a dozen years and I've published a lot of pieces most recently I've been writing a little bit about my family and it's only just begun to occur to me that my small child never asked to be written about and yet she has been and I wondered what your feelings are on that type of person who wanders in and out of your life and ends up getting written about about their bright figures I bet your small child is wandering in and out of your life big time do I have a microphone um we have so much to say I can't even wait for my microphone loss I'll stay put here okay I'll stay put stay put all right okay get away good I'm all set you can hear me no okay you can hear me now I think this work okay all set you can hear me good okay well the the question was such an important one and it has to do with our children first thing I'll say very interesting I've probably spoken and read from and you know addressed audiences about 200 times since this book has been published and every there has yet to be a day that I haven't been asked how do my children think about this how do my children feel about this totally valid question if I were in the audience listening to me I would ask that question too but I'll add I have I have yet to meet a male author who's been asked this question it I have yet to meet a male author who's been asked this question and I think the difference is and I don't fault you for asking it as I said I'd be doing it to that that it is a an obligation uniquely placed on women to to somehow manage to be good writers as long as we take care of everybody else first as long as we don't offend any of our loved ones that's the job of women we're you know Norman Mailer can be as shocking and outrageous or Philip Roth as he wishes to be but women still have to be good mothers first I have I have to end sometimes sometimes the two are in would appear to be in direct opposition and the material that will make the best work will come from the woman who is the cruelest and most unthinking mother to publish things that will be so painful and given the choice probably between doing the absolute best work and betraying my children I'll go for being the better mother that said I have to I have to say as a woman who did in fact write about her children for years I think it's an allusion to suppose that any of us goes through this world without constantly bumping into so many other people having an effect on their lives and being affected by them and nobody's going to you know turn around and sue you or be offended because somebody coughed on you and you got their germs but somehow we've got this idea or at least you know we have we have this idea about a famous person like sure that you know he can write letters to a teenage girl teenage girls but I'm he can go out there and intersect with my life but I must not make reference to that your daughter of course is in a completely different category and I would I would honor her with a lot more protection I would feel a lot more obligation to her to respect her privacy I also feel whatever it is that is our that is our passion and our work has some good and bad aspects for our children and that if you if you are giving your child love and care and attention and support then and the model of a mother who is doing something she loves with passion that may be more important than that you occasionally mentioned that she peed in her diapers or didn't have diapers on when you peed on the book I have you know I've written things about my children that were I'm sure some embarrassment to them and and a few times things that I wish I could take back and increasingly as my children got older I chose simply not to write about those topics because there was no way to write in an honest way about being the mother of a 12 year old girl without talking about a daughter discovering her sexuality and I wasn't going to go there while I was living with a twelve-year-old girl I knew that that and so in my and really that was the moment that I entered into fiction and my children's teenage years have been largely my fiction writing years for that very reason I did not it was more important that I have a good relationship with them then that I then that I tell every single fascinating story that I could have told I bet she's going to forgive you if you know the other the other measure is you I don't even have to ask you you adore your daughter so whatever complicated things you may be saying about her finally your love will come through in my book I I wrote some very disturbing stories about my mother as it happens my mother's dead and and it probably truthfully would not have been possible for me to write with as much honesty about my mother if she had if she had been alive but really what I knew was that that any honest rendering of the character of my mother was going to be an extraordinarily complex one that my mother is a respecter of good writing would would would recognize that herself actually and that finally when the day was done she was going to emerge as a lovable character and as a character that that the reader could sympathize with and understand it and and readers have told me that that's the case when you write out of bitterness and vengeance I think it comes through and that's a lousy thing to do and and not only lousy as a human being but lousy for a reader I don't think readers enjoy that yes I hope you realize that you've been in the situation of being that person has blown the whistle the person who has subjected to blaming the victim and finally the person subjected to the idea of shooting the messenger and all of those are very real phenomena that occur in a lot of other situations the person who points out that there's something wrong with a nuclear power plant is the only one who gets fired um thank you I do know that and it's been a great comfort to know that I it took me a while for that to sort of sift through because you know I was still as recently as the fall of 1998 that girl who at some core level needed approval and I wanted very much the approval of the Washington Post and the critics from the New York Times and and you know all these sort of important literary types to tell me that I'd done a good job ultimately it's your approval that I care about and and readers have not disappointed me I think it's it's been much more you know this issue of oh my god she's written about you know this this sacred very figure is much more something for a rather small group of literary pundits to huff and puff about and not the readers at large yo-oh and Germany wrote you that letter with his life experience and his use the words as we know from the book knew that he was that he was using the most exploitive tool you could ever do and making an eight-year-old feel totally perfect and lovable and acceptable do you think he laid the groundwork for for being the most exploited it's the worst the person ultimately must have exploited you the most and did he ever acknowledge that to you or anybody else later you know I took pains in in the writing of my book and the telling of this story not just the part of the story having to do with Salinger but all parts not to impose judgment or interpretation on the actions of other people besides myself it would be I think presumptuous and I say this I'm trying wherever possible to expand beyond the telling of my story to what might be helpful for other people who are telling theirs I think it's a reader of a memoir expects expects a very distinct point of view which is which is not a fully objective one from a writer about her own life but I don't think it's fair to the reader to to project on to other characters what's going on in their head and I didn't do that I really wanted to give you the reader the opportunity to draw her own conclusions about that I can only say that part of what what unfolds in the telling of my story is that years after this event was was behind me and I was married with three children I began to hear about other young women from for all of those years I certainly know knew that Salinger had no use more use for me but I had held on to this notion I had been the one and only Landsman and first at a cocktail party in New York I heard about a girl who had letters and then over the years and much more since the publication of this book I heard about more and more and more always young girls who got letters the list is in the double digits now of the people that I've just heard from personally myself and interestingly I have to say you know although ultimately what I think is most significant for us to discuss is not the injustice has done to my book but once again not one of the critics of this book mentioned the extremely well-documented phenomenon that a man who you know the whole literary world has been speculating for over 30 years now oh my god what Salinger writing you know holding on to any little scrap of information you know when will we find out about the books they're published for all the world to see in in a book that came out a year and a half ago was concrete information that we know very well at least one substantial activity that's writing activity that JD Salinger has been engaged in for 30 years and nobody pays it any mine six months ago in a whole whole PhD dissertations have been produced on you know the meaning of the Red Hat and Catcher in the Rye taking it apart we have so little that we know about Salinger so every little crumb will study and here I publish three hundred and some pages of pretty concrete information and dismissed six months ago as some of you may have heard you know I actually believed after this book was published in 1998 I thought well there's nothing left bad that they can say about me so I might as well I had three children going into the heavy duty tuition college years doesn't mean I'll do anything for a buck there are a lot of things I won't but I had absolutely no moral compunction about doing this I decided to sell my letters from Salinger at auction at Sotheby's and when these letters were put up for auction I really didn't think as I said that there was anything more that they could say about me boy was I wrong and interestingly and here once again we now had forty some pages of a writer that the world has been hungry to hear from for 30 years and at last we've got these pages on display you could have gone to Sotheby's in New York made an appointment sat down in red JD Salinger they were always described as love letters I have to tell you as the woman most intimately acquainted with these letters these were not love letters there were no throbbing body parts described in this in these letters these were not mushy gooey embarrassing letters and and probably if they had been I would have had to have made a different choice and and the story would have been a different story this was 40 some pages of one of the most significant American literary figures talking about what books writing the act of writing the glass family his family Catcher in the Rye movies his children New York City in the 40s the war forty some pages of Salinger at his best on those subjects occasionally he'd say some pretty nice things about me too what happens to these letters believe me if I if I had been in a financial position to do so I would have donated them to a university library where they truly belonged they were purchased by an extraordinarily wealthy man who decided to return them to Salinger so they could be destroyed sad tale as it happens there are many more sounds or letters out there however and I won't say who has them but I've heard there are some Xerox copies of these yes oh I'm sorry I'll get to you next I guess there's a microphone here for this person we're women reviewers as critical of your honesty in telling your stories as men I'm looking for where the person is oh okay sorry what you know I hate to say women were the worst women beautiful leg women were the worst I think what it is is that women there's an enormous amount of self-hatred in women writers to you know make sure they have experienced what it can be to be a woman in the world and they're going to distance themselves from it and the worst thing that a woman can write about is her emotional life her sexual life you know they say my god she wrote about this book and she included sex well try to tell an honest story about a 53 year old man who writes letters to an 18 year old girl and not include what happened sexually between those people sex is a part of life you know as it happened it was a very small part of this relationship or a very disturbing part of this relationship but once again male writers if a male writer goes into the territory of sex he's macho and brave and if a woman does it she's a and I'm hardly the first who's who's had that experience being a very strong feminist myself I believe that you have absolutely been abused by all these critics and I do believe that as a woman you have been treated differently there's some little Club of these men that want to protect Salinger which you have implied and you also obviously are extremely angry about this that comes through in everything you say especially when you repeat that you were declared an aging nymphet which would embrace me if anyone said that but as a person as an artist and I'm a photographer I believe in your right to explore any material that you ever come across you have the absolute right as far as I'm concerned to do that especially in this country which believes in freedom of expression and if there are dire circumstances you have the right to talk about the explore them we have a right to criticize the critics but I think that for example it's your motive I mean you did not set forth to write this thing to get back at this man I mean you were writing a memoir and this was very important to your life now I've done some photography in my life of a very intimate family things for example funerals family members crying in a deep grief bedside deathbed scenes things like that which people were kind of upset about at the time that I took them but I believed that I had the right to do that and those were images that needed to be made and I did them and I do not regret them and if they're they're going to be in an exhibit that's great and think about the exhibit of the lynchings that is in New York right that a good is very powerful exhibit and this is all about talking about the truth which is what you're really doing and I applaud you thank thank you you know I want to say it's so interesting when you experienced a surprising initial response when you said that I was angry I could feel myself getting really defensive for a second thinking because I was so well taught not to my publishers actually said be sure when you go out and promote this book don't ever show that you're angry I was being a good girl and actually if I if I don't reap lay my early appearances on Charlie Rose and Today Show but if I were to be on those programs now I would be comply would be angry I was so specifically schooled and I don't just mean schooled by my publishers I mean schooled for the last 45 years of life not to be angry and I was even as recently as you know two minutes ago when you said that I thought oh my god I'm betraying that I'm angry I've got to be nice yes frankly I am angry and and I'm you know I'm not just angry on my behalf I will be okay I wasn't sure I was going to be for a while frankly because it was a devastating thing what happened when this book was published and it was sort of devastating professionally and it was devastating financially and lots of things I will be okay I am I am angry on behalf of my daughter and our daughters and I'm angry on behalf of every writer who's going to want to tell a difficult story which you know will be okay as long as it's not about certain people yeah I don't pretend anymore that I'm not and it's actually I have to tell you and I have my friend Judy to thank for this it's a very unique experience that I'm even at a literary conference I don't get invited to literary conferences I really don't and I'm and and it's fun I mean I it's okay I have other parties to go to you know but but I I have not I have not been acknowledged as a writer I have been acknowledged as a kiss-and-tell woman which basically is saying that the one significant event of the life of a 46 year old woman who's published seven books you know raise children done all the things that so many of us have was that one time she slept with a famous man and isn't that a sad story and sad reflection on our times oh I'm sorry I guess I keep on calling on people and I guess there's a rule here yeah miss Maynard a couple of questions one is it seems to me that although the the you wrote a book about a very significant and interesting experience that what you're going to know the publication would also be the subject of a book too and I would love to read that book so my first question is two parts are you considering such a book and secondly with all the experience you've had with the feedback and the anger directed at you based on having written a memoir as a woman and broken some new ground what is your advice to other women memoir is what are some of the subjects we can expect to get a lot of negative feedback on and maybe those should be the subjects we approach because they need to be approached wonderful question wonderful question no I'm not going to write a book about the response to this book I I think I have lived with this story quite long enough and this is actually I'm happy to say this is my absolute last appearance having to do with this book and then I'm going to go home and get back to the novel that has been very difficult to to really get into well this kind of toxic experience has been hanging over me I am proud that I wrote the book I wouldn't change one sentence of it I hope you read it and I hope you tell your friends about it and I I will always be pleased that I've written it but it's over and one of the best things that I can say about writing a memoir is that it frees you to tell all the other stories that are not memoirs so I'm not gonna be the endless documenter of my life I wrote an afterword for the paperback edition of my book that addresses the experience of publishing this book and that's kind of enough as to the second half of your question which is so important you know how should women approach knowing you knows where what happened to me Google for it is what I have to say and there will be a sort of a critical mass go for it and you know we all had women who came before us who took the flack that made the next group take a little less flak and interestingly enough next fall Geri Salinger's daughter Peggy who's now 42 years old is evidently publishing a memoir and although I'm done with this experience I'm not so done that I'm not going to buy that book and I can tell you I can tell you that there's no way that that's going to be a loving reverential treatment of her father because there is no book that a Salinger child could write with the approval and the blessing of JD Salinger and the fact that she's writing this book is an astonishing astonishing fact you know I could talk to you forever and it's really sad to me that we have to close but I wanted to I wanted to close because we didn't we didn't I know that there are a lot of people who struggle with this whole issue of you know how are people going to feel and and so I wanted to say a couple of things to you in parting about the telling of your story and worrying if you're lucky enough that your parents are still alive or you're still married to your husband and you know whatever and you're worried about how to do it number one I would say just do it it is death to a piece of work to to edit yourself and and cut off parts of your story while you're in the act of writing it write it the way you want to write it it's hard enough to write anyway without adding what's my grandmother going to think and after you've written it that's the moment to figure out and there's no one right answer for this everybody has to assess their family situation where they stand after you've written the book you wanted to write the book that will make you feel happy and proud and that you told the truth which is the absolute most important thing then decide if you need to take parts out and put them you know in the bottom of a drawer for later or if you need to hold on to this book for five years or ten years or 20 years but write it the way you want to write it it is an indescribable joy to do that and nobody should be deprived of that and I want to just close by reading to you this is I actually put this in the afterword to my book I maintain a website which is my way of keeping in touch with readers something that was an assáááá – Jerry Salinger but is so important to me as a writer to hear back from readers and know what readers are saying and one day on my website there's a discussion forum on the website if you ever sort of you know want to talk about something not necessarily me or my work but just what's on your mind that that website is a place that people go and discuss stories in their lives it's Joyce Maynard calm I was the critic for Time magazine said imagine her website is named after her she's such a narcissist anyway say so um but I'm not angry really I'm so nice so a woman came to my website and she she was huffing and puffing there were a lot of people who were huffing and puffing about this book and the particular thing that she said was oh my god you know what are your children someday you'll be sorry you know your children are going to read this book and how will you feel then boy well my children do not hang out at my website a whole lot they much more interesting things to do but it happened that my 14 year old son Willie was walking through the room just as I was reading this message that this woman had posted and I was just because he was walking to room I said Oh Willie listen to this somebody's writing about you wondering about how you feel about this and hearing her comment Willie who I have to say is a fine Cracker Jack in fact writer himself said excuse me mom would you mind if I answered this and he's that down this was the one and only time he's ever gone on my website and posted this is word-for-word what my son Willie wrote about the subject that I'm sure many of you were wrestling with and I have to I I won't even attempt to conceal from you how proud of my son I am Oh Kathy I have read my mother I love that Oh Kathy Oh Kathy I have read my mother's most recent book and though parts were hard to hear I was glad to read every page of it I am sure that in your own life you too have been faced with adversity and pain that affected you profoundly as has my mother the fact that she chose to express hers in writing is I believe a sign of her strength and an expression of the faith she has in her children raised that boys allowance I am the youngest of my siblings and possibly the least mature however not for a moment do I suspect any conflicting feeling from my fellow siblings when I say that we all love and support our mother despite her zany stories of despair and whoa I think that we can all relate and learn from these tales if they're approached with an open mind and in my case a little love sincerely Steven Wilson Bethel thank you so much I can't tell you what a pleasure it's been to be here to the signing in Allah because your city on an address on this page oh oh okay

39 thoughts on “Living with J. D. Salinger, Author of The Catcher in the Rye (2000)

  1. We girls are so naive. We are raised to seek approval & trust age & wisdom. She did ok, in the end.

  2. J. D. Salinger > Nine Stories > A Perfect Day For Bananafish. Daphne Joyce Maynard, you have for me cracked open our current cosmic egg. I am sllergic to fear and loathing, and gravitate heliotropically toward a hopeful new dawn.

  3. Stopped watching at 2:42. That's the laugh of a crazy bitch if I've ever heard one. No doubt Salinger did some dubious shit, but who cares.

  4. The critics either need to read her book or to limit their criticisms to the fact that she wrote it.

  5. salenger through the crystal lens of Joyce Maynard Salengers nubile Muse who feels she bought into a psycholoically abusive relationship should read abuot how Marpa the Beer Drinking Buddha treaded his formost student Milreapa the Asetic who lived off mani stones for a good part of the year shines a light on the mkultra propaganda of the pope and this sobbing jewess who does have some good insights but is no doubt a propaganist, if we did not turn a blind eye to our gurus faults students would not be able to study under great masters of ones area of interest and then full of newly ackomlished splendiferous vissions outdo ones masters treading the razor sharp path of tantra bliss born of wisdom compasions union and desire taken onto the path is the substantial cause of buddhas rupakaya dharma kaya, if this women wanted pure lands there are presepts of marraige that support this path but nowdays your lucky if it lasts long enough to raise ones children which leaves men living in a charnell ground drinking themselves to death wondering why consort vajra dakini banged one on the head with the rock of anica impermanence which if understood due to actually having well ground ink and the capacity to make truman show tv hot air and piss run backwards, it is a messy and undignified bussiness pissing in the wind but a lot of fun street theater socrates enjoyed having the last laugh at death and fascism Plato sumblime cave shave synonym for shunyata requires wiping the crystal mirror clean of mid sumer abrhamic cabist abhramic frogshit of nazi zionist mkultura propaganists backing both sides of all wars and arguements always backing the most extreem nihilistic and extreemly eternalistic veiws but it is a true story i know your pain and in many ways serving the new interest in esoteric post modern sumerian freemasonic tv has caused a lot of M P HALL BASED hetrodox cabalists non authentically initiatled templars venture into the tantric arts which are Raja Yana of Yoga Cara Citta matra sublme continuum of Budha Matraya developing Grounds and paths of the Sublime continuum of budhas as expressed IN Commentry on Assanga Such as Ocean of Eloquens by Higher view of shunyata manifest cosmos itselt lacks inherant or uncaused production, is alya vijnaa manifestation of all our past actons mcks one more careful about what sort of art one puts out into the world as life does dtend to imitate it in human society, what did this girl want to learn from salenger he seems to have done the right thing as a user of courtesan and sent her on her way but salenger was CIA it is all a psycholotical operation run by Mi6 Mossad and khazar jews who are figuring out how to mind control the whole world in a triman show tv animal farm now in the end game phase. one should be ashamed of mentioning ones cabalist zionist pro israeli palestinian nazi insurgent zionist rorthschilds Papist Zion Protocolslt belief systems than your alchoholic father and Yes Most men have latent pedophilic urges and usually control them but best avoid the potential and keep a surface conventional world fit for chilren to inhabit so discretly legalise sexual services and opium or marijuana may be legaly sold in brothels in the future good GST revenue to pay for legal free health thunderbolts project exoteric vajra yana eduction based on sybmols of an alien sky petroglyph magnetic plasma rock art, and honey ant dreaming tesla tech 21c Tesla Tech Tri alectic has abandoned all this abrhamic frogshit and probably this woman should be ashamed of her own judao christian mindless nihilistic eternalistic flip flopers zionist frogshit of corporate fascist jew world orders mind controled zombies who really need to comitt to the transcendentcy of using desire on the path Tantra that in the west is called a muse of a great master and choppiing wood carrying water is pure land stuff tantra is the life of a cortesan in a ngaal rabid dog rabi warmongers khazar jews court and so cut out the sobbing jew stories, of the tv truman show nazi zionists who talk a load of frogshit like mass bends space get worried about academia teaching kids that world toxifying USA AL Grays Bum boys Frogshit of nazi insurgent zionist scum Australian Wally thornhills radio cosmology science proved suns surface is hotter than it center and your worried J D SALENGER bedded you when you were nubile and seeking knowlegde from masters comes at the price of service and now you regret your chopping wood carrying water pure land practice and cannot piss backwards will not enter tantra not understanding the value of highest yoga tantra you undervalue purification looking holding hands as well and do not realise Life in Human society Imitates art. Best we grind the ink like sick manusanam until we are living in a picnic at hanging rock forces us to splash black type on white plasma screen like a brave general or tantric bodhi dharma monkey magic fan of laughter of the brush and vagabond swagmen magic puding eaters who like a bit of lebanese gold yeshua hash anointing oil and buddha stick in the billy bong then our picnic at hanging rock is a Dzo Ra ASTA central shushma CEASARS side born torus riders party where senses withdrawn Shakya Zulu Shakya Muni Sid Arhurs Manjusri Sword Mantra OM AH RA PA DZA NA DI is pulled from Gizan Stone Hearts and Minds of mid sumers occultis chabad lubavitch Nazi zionist bitches child sacrificing CITTA HULI lizard brained Ngaal poisonous snake Big Appl,es Bit bang theory mass bends space cannot even model the forces stretching the srping on a scale when you Zionst fuckwitt big banksters wiegh your big apples of corporate facists. 2 planes did not cause 7 wtc twin towers buildings to go into freefall collapse larry sivlerstien dyncorp newcorp riancorp geo engineers of weather EMP WMD did it Dr Judy Woods said so enough with the sobing jew frogshit deal with that

  6. There are artists who change the world. And then there are the reptiles who feed on them even after death. Guess which you are, Joycee?

  7. She's angry because no one cares about her. It's like Michael Jacksons limo driver releases a novel and wonders why it's not selling.

  8. MKULTRA. monarch program. Pedophiles brainwashing children.

  9. Yup, from a small, pedophile, illuminati town of demon possessed, satanist sorcerers in New Hampshire.

    Fuck me, these God damn psychotic jew FUCKS.

    FANTASTIC points at 43:10 about the self-loathing built into women in this disgusting cult-ure & how womens' self expression, esp sexually, is slut shamed, etc ad nauseum.

    & btw, "aging" my ass; I'm 32, very "good looking" traditionally, & I would flirt w/ &, after talking w/ her, he completely head over heels for this "dizzy dame." lol

    I feel sorry for her, I think there's some stuff in her early past that she may be repressing about her "small New Hampshire town".

  10. J.D. was an intensely private man, however, that didn't stop Maynard from publishing memoirs and even auctioning off personal letters that he had written to her. She was nothing but a groupie living off her sugar daddy's fame and she is a despicable human being.

  11. Joyce, you are at home in the world-and Salinger wasn't, therefore if you are a Writer…get over the DIFFERENCE between you and your past lover-and WRITE!
    otherwise, should you continue the rant of your anger-you'll never truly write..more likely-you'll become a gossipy fish woman-and remain stunted that way.

  12. I sympathize with her. I sympathize with Salinger and like Catcher. I know this is rare for comment sections but everyone is a mixed bag, aren't they? Salinger obviously took advantage of certain people, many young ladies even. But I don't consider him an outright pedophile. Is there evidence he was a pedophile, meaning he could have been prosecuted? Of course, everyone is prosecuted brilliantly by wannabe prosecutors in comment sections.

  13. Men that are sluts are direspected by everyone that knows them, do women want this reputation also. The blame game is a sign of an undeveloped reason or understanding of things as they really are. The world is chaging, just not in a good way. so whos wrong, whos right? Blame blame blame, balls.

  14. Telling her to go home out of the blue like that sounds like typical Salinger. In another article I read that Salinger, shortly after the war and living in New York with his mother, was married to a German girl. One morning when she came down for breakfast she found a ticket back to Germany under her plate, as the two of them look on at her. That was his way of say it was over. I'm willing to cut artists some slack but…

  15. An honest, brilliant, energetic girl who has weathered storm made more furious by her talent.   Labor Day is the first of her books I have purchased and read.

  16. I like the paradox of JD telling her about the dangers of publicity but it was her Cover Girl photo that triggered them getting together. So, if 'danger' applies, then JM is the Child of Danger and in JD she saw dear old dad.

  17. Confessions of a groupie … and then felt bad about it and reanalyzed it in her favour.

  18. At first, she was denying she was angry. Then she improvised a new script. Total liar. (I have no idea who she is, or why she's lying.)
    I have no doubt Salinger abused young girls. That's not where I'm coming from. But do not trust this woman.

  19. The question was NOT about her children. Children were merely given as an example.

  20. Well I'm a critic, and I don't believe her. She is also using mind-control techniques. I think she's an actress.

  21. Narcissistic psychopath. As was Salinger. SHE RAN POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS??? WHY are people duped by these CIA agents??

  22. MASONIC SHILL. And she's no writer, or she'd never prostitute her talent, for sports bras. I think she's a complete fake, and is lying. Read her Masonic hand signals. Boneswoman.

  23. She was fridgid, Salinger had to take her to a Dr because her pussy wouldn't open for him.

  24. In my opinion, Joyce Maynard Would have become a literary giant, if she would have not been manipulated by J. D. Salinger. The world is so one sided!

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