If you seek parallels between J.D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon they're easy to find. Both were literary geniuses. Both were publicity-shunning recluses. Both men were psychosexually arrested by God knows what primal wound.
Salinger seemed able to bond only with very young women and girls. Pynchon had a pattern -- somehow linked to inability to form normal alliances -- of hijacking the wives and partners of his friends.
But there are differences. Pynchon seems to have turned a series of corners. He lives a more normal life, with a normal acquired wife, in a less reclusive state than Salinger ever attained. The biggest difference is a sense of humor. Catcher in the Rye is a very funny book, but Salinger eventually stopped finding life amusing. Pynchon sent Irwin Corey, a comedian, to pick up his National book Award ... as Thomas Pynchon.
- Sasha Stone is editor of Awards Daily. She recently attended a screening of the new J.D. Salinger film at Telluride.
- William Hochman completed his dissertation on Salinger in 1994. He’s been reading Salinger since he was 10. He is the co-author of “Critical Companion to J. D. Salinger: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work.”
- Donald Brown is a Pynchon scholar with the New Haven Review.