Category Archives: J. D. Salinger

Rebel in the Rye: Official Trailer

Just a few days after the 66th anniversary of The Catcher in the Rye, IFC Films released the official trailer for the unfortunately titled “Rebel in the Rye.” The feature-length movie covers J.D. Salinger’s early writing life and the creation of his most famous character. Starring Nicholas Hoult, who also plays X-Men’s Beast, another nerd who’s blue as hell, “Rebel” was adapted from Kenneth Slawenski’s J.D. Salinger: A Life by Danny Strong. Strong helped create the hit show “Empire,” and penned Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” and is one of those actors you see in a lot of other shows and movies.

Previous film treatments of Salinger have all basically sucked — everything from the 2013 documentary that Slate call “No goddam good,” (the book it was based on sucked too), all the way back to 1950, when Samuel Goldwyn released “My Foolish Heart,” a film adaptation of the short story “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut.” The movie was sappy enough to turn Salinger away from adaptations for the rest of his natural life, even though it did have a nice song in it.

Given this ignominious history, I am deeply skeptical of any and all Salinger projects. But I admit to being seduced by the polish and drama of the “Rebel” preview. Salinger would definitely hate it and Holden would probably never stop puking, and I’m confident that the storytelling tramples over the complicated history of the book in service of orchestra swells and climactic realizations. I also have my doubts that Whit Burnett, one of Salinger’s early teachers and fiction advocates, was a wryly sassy as Kevin Spacey. But at the very least, I like the idea of a novel inspiring Hollywood-level drama, and I’m still interested in seeing what Strong and team have come up with.

One early review calls the movie “watchable.” All will be revealed on September 15, when “Rebel in the Rye” hits theaters.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about the development of Holden Caulfield and Catcher, we’ve got you covered.

-Michael Moats

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Chris Cooper’s Salinger Eyebrows

Cooper BLUR

Today in eyebrow news:  Continue reading

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“Salinger” Documentary: First Theatrical Trailer

The Weinstein Company has released the first theatrical — and I do mean theatrical — trailer for the upcoming documentary “Salinger.” The film is a project of Shane Salerno, who wrote “Armageddon” and rewrote the screenplay for “Alien vs. Predator,” among other projects.

Looks like he pulled in some heavy hitters to talk about the reclusive author.  Should be interesting. That’s all I’ll say. For now.

– Michael Moats


Filed under J. D. Salinger, The Real Holden Caulfield

Matt Tanner For the Win

Our art director, Matt Tanner, won an award from Design Observer’s 50 Books/50 Covers contest for his work here at Fiction Advocate.


Among this year’s winners you may recognize, for example, Chip Kidd’s design for the new Haruki Murakami book at Random House. And right beside it, Matt Tanner’s design for an e-book by Michael Moats from Fiction Advocate. This is insane! It’s like Burundi showing up at the Olympics and walking away with gold.

We paid Matt $30 and a bottle of gin for this design. It looks like his fee just went up.

To see more of Matt’s award-winning design work, check out everything we’ve ever published, our logos and colophon, the header at the top of this page, the Critical Hit Awards, and Matt’s online portfolio.

Speaking of accolades for “The Real Holden Caulfield,” there’s been a good deal of praise for what’s inside the cover, too. The New Yorker, Readers Digest, Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, The Awl, The Rumpus, and Berfrois have lauded Michael Moats’s essay, which offers an insightful and comprehensive look at one of the most enduring characters in American literature.

Get your hands on the triumphant e-book here.

– Fiction Advocate


Filed under book design, Holden Caulfield, J. D. Salinger

Praise for “The Real Holden Caulfield” by Michael Moats

“Smart, lively, and personal.” — The Second Pass

“Anyone interested in Catcher will enjoy [this].” — Reader’s Digest

“So good you will climax.” — bathroom wall at 4th Ave Pub in Brooklyn, NY

We’re everywhere!

Our first e-book, “The Real Holden Caulfield” by Michael Moats, is getting crazy attention around the World Wide Web.

Excerpts were published at The Awl, The Rumpus, and Berfrois.

The Second Pass gave it a solid write-up, as did Readers Digest (!) and 3 Quarks Daily.

It got mentioned at BookslutBookforum, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish at The Daily Beast.

And links from msnowe, a Boston taxi service (!) and other places.

And we blew up Twitter with tweets from Electric Literature, Hipster Book Club, Insulted by Authors, The Awl, The Rumpus, Berfrois3 Quarks Daily, Matt Tanner, and Andrew Sullivan.


– Fiction Advocate

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The Real Holden Caulfield

July 16 is the 60th anniversary of the publication of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

To celebrate we’re offering “The Real Holden Caulfield,” a short e-book by Michael Moats.

Check out the excerpts at The Awl and The Rumpus

… and order the e-book as a PDF — designed beautifully by Matt Tanner, compatible with all your devices — for $1.99.

The author is donating 100% of his earnings to the Wounded Warrior Project. We think Salinger, who landed at Utah Beach on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, would approve.

Here’s the preface to get you started.

“The Real Holden Caulfield”

by Michael Moats

It’s the story of a young boy wandering the streets of his home city. He can’t go to school and he can’t go home. In the course of a few days, he runs across a series of unsavory characters, people who seem honest but are not. He feels pursued at every turn by an overactive conscience. The boy gets wet, catches a chill; he drinks and swears and makes an ass of himself. He can’t seem to connect with anyone he can trust. He meets a girl, who is finally able to give him the thing he is searching for, something that makes him – or at least makes him feel, in a world so phony – like a real boy.

This is, roughly, the story of Pinocchio.

There is no known evidence that Salinger drew from the old Tuscan story when creating Holden Caulfield. It’s only coincidence that the cover of Il Giovane Holden, the Italian translation of The Catcher in the Rye, shows a rough sketch of Holden with arms and legs skewed, his body crumpled like a discarded marionette. Holden, who might have just as easily cried, “Oh, I’m sick and tired of always being a puppet!”.

At 31 years old, I have known Holden Caulfield half my life and been around for half the life of The Catcher in the Rye, which debuted 60 years ago on July 16, 1951. Ever since my first encounter with Holden, I have wanted to know and say more about him, to share whatever special kernel of human-ness he reveals with the many others who have been similarly touched. The Catcher in the Rye is the rarest of unifying experiences, one whose depth, difficulty and nuance are combined with widespread popularity. It’s a book that people around the world have read with something more than  casual interest, and not for the easier thrills of sex, murder or other such varieties of bad behavior. Holden is a character who means something to millions of us.

Over the years, however, I have found a contradiction at the heart of this: The book that brings me closer to so many people is also the book that best explains why I really connect with so few. Rather than a kinship, I feel a looming uneasiness whenever I read what others write about Holden. Whenever I open up a book like With Love and Squalor – a collection of personal reflections on Salinger, and not a bad book in its own right – I feel the essays lay claim to Holden too ardently, and hold him too close. I hardly recognize the boy these writers allege to have met. Similarly, academic writers portray Holden too clinically, showing the young man as a canvas painted by forces of history and economics and Freudian fallacies, by a World War and a rapidly shifting American culture. They may place him in the line of literature’s first-person melancholics and outsiders – from Young Werther to Huck Finn to Proust’s narrator Marcel – but Holden remains somehow separate. With the memoirists who have grown old and thoughtful about their first readings of The Catcher in the Rye and the passage of life since then, I find the distance between us is too great.

Why do I feel that I must write about Holden as if there are pictures of him in a drawer somewhere behind me? As if I’m expecting him to arrive within the hour? I can’t disassemble him as a collection of allusions or authorial intentions any more than I can do the same for my own life. He is no puppet of Salinger’s imagination. He is too real. As Clifton Fadiman put it in the Book-of-the-Month Club commentary that accompanied Catcher’s debut, “Read five pages and you are inside Holden’s mind, almost as incapable of escaping it as Holden is himself (…) That rare miracle of fiction has again come to pass: a human being has been created out of ink, paper, and the imagination.” Sixty years later, the best strategy may be to assemble the facts and figures: Holden’s friends and family; his first appearance and other sightings. An examination of the public record. That is how we find the real Holden Caulfield. No strings. O snail, climb Mt. Fuji.  But slowly, slowly!

– Fiction Advocate


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