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Does Hyped 'Salinger' Documentary Promote New Book Release or Vice Versa? (TRAILER)

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by Beth Hanna
August 26, 2013 2:23 PM
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J.D. Salinger

Shane Salerno's "Salinger" documentary hits theaters September 6, via the Weinstein Company, while the new book upon which its based, also titled "Salinger" (co-authored by director Salerno and David Shields), becomes available September 3. Clearly this is a case of savvy cross-promotion.

The book "Salinger" received a less-than-glowing review on August 25 by the NY Times' lit critic Michiko Kakutani, faulting it for "sloppy scholarship," and writing that while the high number of interviewees the book-documentary project has boasted from the beginning (more than 200 people over nine years) shows energy on Salerno's part, a number of entries in the volume are actually taken from previous books and articles. 

Kakutani also observes:

“Salinger,” self-promotingly described on its cover as “The Official Book of the Acclaimed Documentary Film,” is not a conventional biography but a kind of companion volume to Mr. Salerno’s documentary of the same name (to be released on Sept. 6). The book takes a montagelike form...

Meanwhile, others have wondered whether the film, site unseen, acts as a sales pitch for the book. NY Post film critic Lou Lumenick tweeted:

"Starting to wonder if this so-far-unscreened SALINGER "documentary" is basically a glorified infomercial for the director's new book."

Based on the trailer, the doc looks to a be a thriller-esque portrait of the enigmatic, reclusive author of "The Catcher in the Rye." Salinger died in January 2010, and hadn't published a work since 1965. Included among the interviewees are Salinger's closest friends and colleagues who have never spoken about him before, and archival footage of the writer. Other notable personalities seen in the film include Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, Tom Wolfe and Gore Vidal, among others, who discuss his cultural impact.

Director Salerno also co-wrote Oliver Stone's "Savages" in 2012.

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