J.D. Salinger and Joyce Maynard

J.D. Salinger and Joyce Maynard

J.D. Salinger and Joyce Maynard

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Jan. 28 2010 3:00 PM

J.D. Salinger and Joyce Maynard

/blogs/xx_factor/2010/01/28/jd_salinger_and_joyce_maynard/jcr:content/body/slate_image

J.D. Salinger has just died. One of the few portraits we have of him after he withdrew from public life and the written word and retreated to a compound in New Hampshire was the memoir by Joyce Maynard, published decades after the fact, of a months-long affair with him when she was 18 years old. The Salinger in her portrait was a sexually weird, health-obsessed crank. (Maynard also thinks he may have a couple of unpublished novels squirreled away somewhere.) Maynard was roundly excoriated for having violated Salinger’s privacy and exploiting their long-ago affair for financial gain. I agree with Hanna that there is much to excoriate about Joyce Maynard, but I always felt that she was entitled to write about her own life. Salinger contacted her after he saw her a photograph of her winsome teenage face on the cover of the New York Times Magazine illustrating probably her most famous story about herself. He was 35 years older than she-old enough to understand that when you have an affair with a writer, you may be dealing away your privacy.

Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.