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A J.D. Salinger Tell-All as Told by His Daughter

Publishing: 'Dream Catcher' details the odd behavior of the hermitic author. 'He loves me,' author says, 'and probably hates my guts too.'

September 01, 2000|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — J.D. Salinger, the fiercely private author of "The Catcher in the Rye," has been exposed again--this time by his own daughter, who says in a new memoir that he drank his own urine, spoke in tongues and rarely had sex with her mother.

Margaret A. Salinger's "Dream Catcher: A Memoir" also reports that her half-Jewish father was once married to a Nazi Party functionary.

The book, due out Wednesday from Pocket Books, comes two years after Joyce Maynard's expose of her romance with Salinger when she was a teenager and he was in his 50s.

Salinger, 81, has not published anything new since 1965 and has remained publicly silent for years, refusing all interview requests. He lives in seclusion in Cornish, N.H.

Margaret Salinger's mother, Claire Douglas, was an Irish Catholic high school girl in New York when she met Salinger, who was then in his 30s.

According to their 44-year-old daughter, her father--a U.S. counterintelligence agent in wartime Europe--arrested a young Nazi Party functionary named Sylvia and married her.

The marriage didn't last long; later, he would call her with disgust "Saliva," the daughter writes.

By the time he met Douglas, Salinger was abstaining from sex, following the advice of an Indian mystic, their daughter writes.

According to Margaret Salinger, her father also studied Scientology, homeopathy and Christian Science and engaged in a hodgepodge of practices, including drinking urine, sitting in a Reichian "orgone box," speaking in tongues and fasting.

The writer held his wife as "a virtual prisoner," refusing to allow her to see friends and relatives and demanding fancy meals.

Margaret Salinger says that, since her parents rarely were intimate, her conception was all but an accident. When the writer's wife became pregnant, he found her abhorrent, and she developed a suicidal depression, their daughter says she was told by her mother, now a Jungian analyst in California.

She says her growing-up years were accompanied by bulimia, panic attacks, chronic fatigue and "severe perceptual distortions."

She says she felt compelled to decipher her childhood in print, "absolutely determined not to repeat with my son what had been done with me."

Her parents divorced in 1966.

She graduated from Brandeis University, studied management at Oxford University, then attended Harvard Divinity School and trained as a nondenominational hospital chaplain.

Father and daughter have kept in touch over the years, but with the book out, she says she is not sure he will ever speak to her again.

"He loves me," she said in Thursday's New York Times, adding that "he probably hates my guts too."

Her father lives with his third wife, a nurse in her 30s.

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