Joyce Maynard wants you to forget about J.D. Salinger…or does she?

By Carmen Comment

Well, at least she says she does, in talking to the SF Chronicle’s Justin Berton, but when she began the event to hawk her new book, INTERNAL COMBUSTION, she spent the first 20 minutes on a post-mortem of sorts about the relationship before even bringing up the book: “You may notice I’m not talking about INTERNAL COMBUSTION yet,” she said to laughs from the 20 people in the audience, mostly women. “But I will. That’s the book I want you to buy today.”

And that’s the paradox of Maynard, who actually found some literary success (her novel, TO DIE FOR, was made into the 1995 Nicole Kidman movie) before blowing the lid off her tumultuous relationship with the notoriously reclusive author. And critics are still after her now, what with a somewhat controversial piece at Salon about her miscarriage and snipings that by not gaining much access to material related to her book, it’s really all about…herself. Maynard, again to the dismay of Salinger’s fans and those wishing she’d felt some shame, said flatly: “I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t need the money.””Why is being shameless — without shame — a bad thing?” Maynard asked at her home. “Then I like being shameless. I don’t kick dogs, I don’t hit children. But I do screw up — welcome to the human race — and then I write about it. I lived with shame; I won’t now.”

So instead, she accepts her fate. “I could wish it didn’t follow me everywhere,” Maynard said. “It’s certainly not the best, or most important thing I’ve done in my life, but it will follow me, yes, and when I die, it’ll say, ‘When she was 18 she slept with Salinger. When she was 45, she wrote about it.’ It gets reduced to that, but I’m not going to be reduced to it.”