These men hardly seem reasonable

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Salerno

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Shields

Salinger, the documentary, I could not watch for more than five minutes. Perhaps it will be a good film for middle schools students of the future. To an obsessed Salinger reader, there is nothing new to be garnered there.

The book version, it’s a relief, opens differently, with a detailed account of Salinger’s by all accounts horrific war experiences.

But the book is lacking in many key regards.

One particularly troubling error is a selection of words in the segment regarding “The Catcher in the Rye‘s” unfortunate association with murderers.

john hinckley salinger biography by Shiels and Salerno is poorly writtenJohn Hinckley, who, under the influence of The Catcher in the Rye, attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.” — Shields and Salerno

This caption represents the kind of mind-boggling error that invalidates the entire book by calling the credibility of the authors into doubt. Certainly, Shields has some funny gimmicks up his sleeve, and Salerno apparently knows how to tie his shoelaces. But this garbage does not deserve to be in print, and anyone who thinks it does is moronic.

Was Charles Manson under the influence of The White Album when he ordered his followers to rip a fetus out of a woman? Was GW Bush under the influence of the Bible when he invaded Iraq?

No. Obviously not. They were under the influence of their own madness, their own twisted logic. They may have seized on these artworks as supports for their schemes, plans and activities, but to assert a causal relation between the work, as if the work could influence a harmless innocent into firing bullets at another human, in the way that alcohol influences the brain to not react as quickly when a deer darts in front the car you’re driving, is sheer absurdity and unfathomable stupidity.

The real question is how stupid are Shields and Salerno? Under the influence of what brain-deadening critical doctrine were they working when they commit this disgusting offense against truth?

They make Brian Helgeland‘s view espoused in Conspiracy Theory, that these killers were all CIA agents programmed to buy Catcher so that the government could track them by their purchases if they ever went AWOL, seem sound by comparison.

The book also includes a lengthy quote by John Guare on this subject – he describes how he found the book horrifying and determined that young men should be prohibited from reading the book due to the misanthropic murderous impulses it will doubtless cause to bloom in their hapless, blank minds. Thanks John. And here I was worried about my kid reading Bret Easton Ellis or Dennis Cooper.

May they be so written about. Under the influence of Shields’ ‘Reality Hunger,’ Barnes & Noble booksellers has decided to only offer print editions of non-fiction celebrity memoirs from now on. Under the influence of Six Degrees of Separation, wealthy upper-class families suspect that young African Americans are pathological liars.

 

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