Recently deceased literary legend J.D. Salinger was known for his reclusiveness. After publishing his acclaimed “The Catcher in the Rye” in 1959, Salinger grew to dislike the public eye more and more over the years, eventually dropping out of public life almost entirely until his death yesterday at the age of 91.
But one of the few post-”Rye” glimpses we got into the live of Salinger came from Joyce Maynard, who was in a romantic relationship with Salinger in 1972 when she was 18 and he was 53.
Maynard has since become an accomplished author in her own right, but it’s her connection to Salinger that’s throwing her into the public eye yet again in the wake of his death. Maynard, now 56 herself, met Salinger after he wrote her a letter complimenting her on a piece she had written for The New York Times Magazine, called “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back On Life.
The two exchanged correspondence for some time, and Maynard eventually dropped out of Yale to live with Salinger in his Cornish, New Hampshire home. She spent ten months with him, but he broke off the relationship abruptly immediately before her first book, Looking Back, an extension of the NYT Magazine piece, was published.
In a later memoir she would write about her time with Salinger, “At Home in the World,” Maynard said he ended the relationship suddenly while they were on vacation, and said she begged him to take her back without success.
Salinger’s daughter, Margaret Salinger, supported this idea somewhat in her childhood memoir “Dream Catcher,” where she wrote that Salinger broke off the relationship because Maynard wanted children, and he did not.
Since her relationship with Salinger, Maynard gained critical acclaim for her 1992 book “To Die For,” which was made into a 1995 movie starring Nicole Kidman, and has released five other works of fiction, including her latest, “Labor Day,” and has written various works of nonfiction as well.
Maynard has thus far made no public statement about Salinger’s death.