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Book Cover for: Sergeant Salinger, Jerome Charyn

Sergeant Salinger

Jerome Charyn

Critic Reviews


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A shattering biographical novel of J.D. Salinger in combat

"Charyn skillfully breathes life into historical icons." --New Yorker

J.D. Salinger, mysterious author of The Catcher in the Rye, is remembered today as a reclusive misanthrope. Jerome Charyn's Salinger is a young American WWII draftee assigned to the Counter Intelligence Corps, a band of secret soldiers who trained with the British. A rifleman and an interrogator, he witnessed all the horrors of the war--from the landing on D-Day to the relentless hand-to-hand combat in the hedgerows of Normandy, to the Battle of the Bulge, and finally to the first Allied entry into a Bavarian death camp, where corpses were piled like cordwood.

After the war, interned in a Nuremberg psychiatric clinic, Salinger became enchanted with a suspected Nazi informant. They married, but not long after he brought her home to New York, the marriage collapsed. Maladjusted to civilian life, he lived like a "spook," with invisible stripes on his shoulder, the ghosts of the murdered inside his head, and stories to tell.

Grounded in biographical fact and reimagined as only Charyn could, Sergeant Salinger is an astonishing portrait of a devastated young man on his way to becoming the mythical figure behind a novel that has marked generations.

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Cesare: A Novel of War-Torn Berlin. He lives in New York.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
  • Publish Date: Jan 5th, 2021
  • Pages: 288
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.20in - 5.40in - 0.90in - 0.70lb
  • EAN: 9781942658740
  • Categories: BiographicalLiteraryHistorical - 20th Century - World War II

About the Author

Charyn, Jerome: -

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Sergeant Salinger (forthcoming from Bellevue Literary Press in January 2021); Cesare: A Novel of War-Torn Berlin; The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King: A Novel of Teddy Roosevelt and His Times; In the Shadow of King Saul: Essays on Silence and Song; Jerzy: A Novel; and A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century. Among other honors, his novels have been selected as finalists for the Firecracker Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Charyn has also been named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture and received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.

Critics’ reviews:

Praise for this book

Praise for Sergeant Salinger

"A masterly portrait of a young man's terrible war." --The Times

"Intense and absorbing." --The Reporter

"Wonderfully recreates the war years of J. D. Salinger. . . . If you are looking for a more nuanced war novel, a story of World War II and what it did to the young men forced to fight it, this is the book for you." --Michigan Daily

"A bravura slice of creative reconstruction. . . . Charyn triumphantly adds to the wealth of historical war fiction, while exercising his right as a fiction author to rewrite our understanding of another." --Daily Mail

"Two intriguing suggestions are buried deeply in the story that Charyn tells so compellingly in Sergeant Salinger. One is that Salinger could have but chose not to write one of the great war novels of the twentieth century. (In a real sense, Charyn has done it for him.) The other is that Salinger's experience of war drove him to explore only the inner lives of the characters he invented and to hide his own inner life from the generations of readers who revere him." --Jewish Journal

"Charyn wisely avoids the biographical novel's penchant for the blow-by-blow, scene-by-scene recounting of all the important moments in the subject's life. Instead we are immersed in the immediacy of war as Salinger . . . has to psyche out the phonies and somehow remain true to himself." --University Bookman

"[A] literary tour de force. . . . Charyn vividly portrays [J.D. Salinger's] journey from slick short story writer to suffering artist. The winning result humanizes a legend." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This supremely engaging novel leaves us with a new, sometimes heart-rending understanding of [J.D. Salinger] and the times in which he came of age." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Charyn deftly leaves the reader wondering whether Holden Caulfield's teenage angst was really Salinger's personification of post-traumatic stress disorder. . . . Engrossing." --Library Journal

"Nuanced and acutely perceptive. . . . Charyn offers an astute psychological portrait of an elusive yet vastly compelling subject." --Booklist

"Charyn peers into the traumas that formed the lifelong recluse and his enigmatic stories. . . . The whole story makes for an engaging and informative rendering of an important American author." --Historical Novels Review

"An in depth look at one of our most celebrated of writers. . . . Charyn answers the question of how it was meant to be for Salinger to write that novel that unwittingly summoned the world." --Comics Grinder

Select Praise for Jerome Charyn

"Jerome Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer--so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible." --Tom Bissell

"Charyn is one of the most important writers in American literature." --Michael Chabon

"Charyn is a one off: no other living American writer crafts novels with his vibrancy of historical imagination." --William Giraldi

"[Charyn's] sentences are pure vernacular music, his voice unmistakable." --Jonathan Lethem

"One of our most rewarding novelists." --Larry McMurtry

"Among Charyn's writerly gifts is a dazzling energy―a highly inflected rapid-fire prose that pulls us along like a pony cart over rough terrain." --Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books

"Charyn skillfully breathes life into historical icons." --New Yorker

"One of our most intriguing fiction writers." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"Absolutely unique among American writers." --Los Angeles Times

"A contemporary American Balzac." --Newsday

"Charyn's blunt, brilliantly crafted prose bubbles with the pleasure of nailing life to the page in just the right words." --Washington Post

"[Charyn] writes with the sort of whirlwind energy that turns the seediest story into a breakneck adventure." --Wall Street Journal

"Charyn has a gift for the unexpected, both linguistically and narratively. . . . The result is at once surprising and very entertaining." --BookPage

"For half a century, [Charyn] has been an unpredictable, unclassifiable, and above all exactingly smart author." --Open Letters Review

"Charyn makes artful use of historical fact and fiction's panache." --Kirkus Reviews

"Charyn, as he has proven time and time again, is a master of the written word." --Jewish Journal

"Wherever he takes us, Charyn's mind is always agile, and his prose is stunningly electric." --Jewish Book Council