Book Claims Secret Deformity Made Salinger a Recluse

Says the famed author only had one testicle

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 28, 2013 9:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you thought the recent revelation that five new JD Salinger books are due out was juicy, well, you haven't seen anything yet. That tidbit came compliments of Salinger the book and Salinger the documentary, which were written/directed by David Shields and Shane Salerno and are both due out next week. While Jen Chaney calls that news "certainly the biggest bombshell," she drops a few of her own in the Washington Post, which got a copy of the book. Chief among them: He became a recluse in part because he only had one testicle.

Shields and Salerno sourced this detail from two unnamed women and an Army pal of Salinger's; they claim it's why he tended to be with younger women (the book recounts his relationship with Jean Miller, who caught the then-30-year-old's eye when she was 14), and write that "surely one of the many reasons he stayed out of the media glare was to reduce the likelihood that this information about his anatomy would emerge." Another claim that Chaney notes is based on "speculative" evidence: That Salinger annulled his first marriage after finding out Sylvia Welter informed for the Gestapo. (Click for more tidbits.) Meanwhile, in a review for the LA Times, David Ulin gives credit to Salerno and Shields for getting "the goods, digging up information on Salinger's war buddies," but faults them for packing chapters with "a litany of names without attribution, leaving us unsure from whom we're hearing and why."

This undated photo shows JD Salinger at home in Cornish, NH, with Emily Maxwell, wife of William Maxwell, Salinger's editor at The New Yorker. The photo is part of a film and book by Shane Salerno.
This undated photo shows JD Salinger at home in Cornish, NH, with Emily Maxwell, wife of William Maxwell, Salinger's editor at The New Yorker. The photo is part of a film and book by Shane Salerno.   (AP Photo/The Story Factory)
A 1951 file photo shows J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, and Franny and Zooey.
A 1951 file photo shows J.D. Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye", "Nine Stories", and "Franny and Zooey."   (AP Photo, file)
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