New Documentary on J.D. Salinger

Like many people I first read J.D. Salinger‘s novel The Catcher in the Rye as an adolescent and was immediately smitten with Holden Caufield and the spirit of the book. Yet it wasn’t until I was older, and a much more experienced reader, that I read Franny and Zooey and his collection of short stories titled Nine Stories (“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” is a personal favorite) that I became a true devotee of Salinger.

The stories in Nine Stories may be as perfectly crafted as any American short stories since those in Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time or, more recently, the stories of Raymond Carver. Salinger was in complete control of his craft and could seemingly do whatever he wanted on the page…And then, of course, he famously disappeared from the public scene and stopped publishing entirely.

A new documentary due out this September titled “Finding Salinger,” documents one man’s search for Salinger during the last years’s of his life. Here is the trailer:

Where Soldiers Come From

When I was a young boy I saw the movie The Deer Hunter on television for the first time. Although I didn’t have the emotional maturity or the historical knowledge to put it all in perspective, I was deeply moved by the film and the actors (Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken). It spawned an enduring interest in the Vietnam War for me and also gave me a stellar template to judge films and acting against ever since.

The very idea of a group of friends from a small Pennsylvania coal town joining the Army together, fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, and then returning home to their friends and family as vastly different human beings is riveting drama. Yet It turns out that the story in The Deer Hunter is not too far from what is happening right now in Michigan.

A new documentary titled Where Soldiers Come From is now in limited release across the country and it tells the story of 9 boys (men) from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—a rural area along the Canadian border— who joined the Army National Guard as a group and ultimately served in Afghanistan together. What intrigues me about the film is that the director was able to spend four years following the men, including being with them before they joined the Army so we can see into what one critic called “the enclosed world of youth.”

Here is the trailer: