When it was first published in 1998, At Home in the World set off a furor in the literary world and beyond. Joyce Maynard's memoir broke a silence concerning her relationship - at age 18 - with J.D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, then age 53, who had read a story she wrote for The New York Times in her freshman year of college and sent her a letter that changed her life.
Reviewers called her book "shameless" and "powerful" and its author was simultaneously reviled and cheered. With what some have viewed as shocking honesty, Maynard explores her coming of age in an alcoholic family, her mother's dream to mold her into a writer, her self-imposed exile from the world of her peers when she left Yale to live with Salinger, and her struggle to reclaim her sense of self in the crushing aftermath of his dismissal of her not long after her 19th birthday. A quarter of a century later - having become a writer, survived the end of her marriage and the deaths of her parents, and with an eighteen-year-old daughter of her own - Maynard pays a visit to the man who broke her heart. The story she tells - of the girl she was and the woman she became - is at once devastating, inspiring, and triumphant.
Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation
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could not stop listening.
Engaging history and good writing
Tales of J.D. Salinger. Also her writing ability seems to shine through, and best of all, she read the book she wrote.
J.D. Salinger features of course.
They seem of a personal nature of hers. Her first night with Salinger, and when the paper rung Salinger's phone for her and he couldn't stop being angry with her, and when she returns to his house in the 90s. Also the revealing of the ex-husband behind Salinger's later partner.
I had never heard of Joyce Maynard before the recent Salinger documentary and book (audiobook in my case). Something never commented on by her but I couldn't help but notice, is the sense that Salinger was a mentor to her. He must have noticed something of himself in her writing that started his interest in her. His complete reason for being interested in her is something more debatable and might reveal itself in some way in this book. I couldn't help but notice something of Salinger's style in her writing.I had read somewhere that only one chapter in the book was about Salinger. Not so at all. Much of the book is about Salinger. There is a great deal about him for anyone interested in Salinger. Writing a book about Salinger is controversial in itself I suppose, but it was her story in this case as well. My feeling about Salinger from this story is that he was quite dense and should have expected a teenage girl to have a lot of change coming in her life.Here is something additional. The story of the wife who left her husband and child to live with Salinger reminded me of something similar. A woman did the same thing with T. Lobsang Rampa and her book is available somewhere from her point of view.
- Fred Kaffing