J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist
(New Harvest/HMH, 2014)
"In this short, sensitive and irresistible biography, echoes ricochet from Salinger to Beller and back, bouncing off a word, a phrase, an accent, a memory, a chat with an acquaintance."
" In this short, sensitive and irresistible biography, echoes ricochet from Salinger to Beller and back, bouncing off a word, a phrase, an accent, a memory, a chat with an acquaintance."
--Cathleen Schine, The New York Times Book Review
-- Priscilla Gilman, The Boston Globe
"Highly attuned to the social and economic nuances of Salinger's milieu...So much insight into Salinger's world."
"Fascinating. Extraordinarily informative... A book of gracious and provocative second thoughts."
"(A) genre-bending nonfiction charmer. Beller's narrative unfolds with the seamless grace one expects from a practiced fiction writer and longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine.
That experience makes him especially sensitive to the literary merits of his subject."
"Beller offers a uniquely literary inquiry into the combatively reclusive and epically blocked author of The Catcher in the Rye and beloved short story collections... A fine and stirring portrait of a haunted literary artist.'
"Rather than writing a straightforward biography, Beller
offers here an exceptionally well-researched, deeply felt, and thoughtful
exploration of the elusive author's history, in which he probes Salinger's
life and prickly familial ties, and their manifestation in his timeless
characters and settings."
"Beller writes with intelligence and insight..."
"Some of the best parts of "The Escape Artist" are its asides... Beller has an entertaining style."
"(Beller's) prose was vivid and concise, and possessed the lyrical quality of fiction. It was clear that Beller treated his work, and his subject, with delicacy and care...
What I expected to be some invasive act of voyeurism turned out instead to be a work of scholarship, introspection, honesty and sincerity."
"So engaging, so funny, so witty and intelligent and wise.
I had not thought it possible to learn anything more about Salinger, but Beller has done it.
"The objective, exhaustive biographies of Salinger have been published. Beller supplies us with what's needed now--a book that shines with a deep personal passion for the writer."
"In this mesmerizing brief biography, Thomas Beller captures in lively fashion the many sides of Salinger's complicated personality: the recluse, the distant father, the eccentric genius writer. And there is another personality here: the biographer himself, at once detective, story teller and acerbic critic rolled into one. It's hugely readable; I couldn't put it down."
"This book approaches J. D. Salinger's life and art from six or seven angles, all of them acute. Beller reveals his own sensibility along with his subject's, and the result is a wonderfully personal portrait, telling in every detail, gesture, remark and reflection."
"It's hard to imagine a more perfect pairing of author and subject than Thomas Beller and J.D. Salinger. Beller is not just a close reader of Salinger but an intimate companion, an aficionado/scholar whose expansive curiosity, sharp insight, and wry self-awareness make The Escape Artist both a pleasure and an education."