A new trailer out today for the critically panned documentary Salinger highlights author Joyce Maynard, who had a relationship with Salinger in the 1970s, as a talking head. But Maynard is now going on record saying she found the film "disturbing."
Maynard saw the film at the Telluride Film Festival, which she attended because Jason Reitman's adaptation of her novel Labor Day had its debut there. She's since been vocal about her disappointment in the film.
"My time with Salinger changed the course of my life, but it was also deeply painful," Maynard wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times's Nicole Sperling in an article published today. "To me, that's what was missing in the film. As a woman and as the mother of a daughter, I have a less generous point of view than Shane on why an adult man would write letters, into his 50s, to teenage girls." The Wrap reported that while in Telluride Maynard said: "I believe that no biography of J.D. Salinger will ever be complete without an acknowledgement that he was not simply a PTSD victim, he was a victimizer as well."
In 1972 Maynard wrote an essay for the New York Times Magazine entitled "An 18-Year-Old Looks Back On Life," which prompted a letter from Salinger. She dropped out of Yale to go live with him.
The lack of perspective in regard to Salinger's relationship with Maynard was something Andrew Barker pointed out in his review for Variety. "These epistolary obsessions with young girls are certainly eyebrow-raising, yet at no point is Salinger accused or even suspected of impropriety," Barker wrote. Meanwhile, in his takedown of the film for the New York Times in today's paper, A.O. Scott called interviews with Maynard and Jean Miller, thought to have inspired the story "For Esmé — With Love and Squalor," "genuinely illuminating and disturbing."
Salinger opens in limited release today, so the new trailer is a last blast of advertising. It happens to highlight what many critics took issue with: the overbearing score and attempt to make the story seem like a thriller without much substance. For what it's worth, Maynard's side of the story has a new platform. A reissued version of her 1998 memoir At Home in the World, with a new preface, became available Tuesday, according to Sperling.