Monday, February 14, 2011

Kenneth Slawenski's "J. D. Salinger: A Life"

Kenneth Slawenski is the creator of, a website founded in 2004 and recommended by the New York Times.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, J. D. Salinger: A Life, and reported the following:
When I opened my book to page 99, I groaned. Here, I had written a 450 page biography of J.D. Salinger and found myself staring at perhaps the only page that barely mentions him. Page 100, of course, is wonderful. It contains Salinger’s euphoric description of the liberation of Paris during World War II and his meeting with Ernest Hemingway. Page 99 seemed dull in contrast: an explanation of troop placements and of a general strike that convinced the Germans to surrender the city without a fight.

To some, such details might seem sleepy, but there is a very good reason for page 99.

The Germans had every intention of defending Paris to the last man. In fact, Hitler is reported to have telephoned his commander there demanding that the city be burned to the ground. The carnage would have been enormous, and just as Salinger was approaching the city gates. If the events of page 99 had not taken place there would be no page l00. It is possible that Salinger would have died during the ensuing battle; and the character of Holden Caulfield would have perished with him.

I think that deserves a page.
Visit Kenneth Slawenski's Dead Caulfields website, and read more about J. D. Salinger: A Life at the publisher's website.

Writers Read: Kenneth Slawenski.

--Marshal Zeringue