TODAY

TODAY   |  September 03, 2013

‘Salinger’ doc reveals new details of author’s life

Co-author and director Shane Salerno says his new documentary “Salinger,” which took nearly a decade to produce, reveals fresh details about the intensely private author.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> j.d.salinger's the catcher and the rye is the right of passage for thousands around the world. now a new biography and movie is revealing details about the author.

>> catcher and the rye caught my attention when it first came out.

>> there had not been a voice like that. so personal, to revealing. somebody had stripped the layers away from his soul.

>> it said on the cover this book will change your life. and i bought the book but i was afraid to read it because i didn't want my life changed.

>> it's magical. you're like how did he do that? how did he put it all together that way and lead me through it in such a way that i would land just like that in that final statement where you're so grateful to him and you want to go find him.

>> shane is the director of salinger and coauthor of a companion biography. it took you nine years to put this project together and the biggest revelation that is j.d.salinger continued to write if not publish.

>> he continued to write every day for four years. he never stopped writing. he would work every single day. he was disciplined and we know that work is coming.

>> you report he had a plan to have it published after his death. how do you know this? what is your sources? have you seen this material?

>> we did a nine year investigation. we interviewed over 200 people. we have the first people to ever find photos of him. the details of his first wife which is an extraordinary story and in the course of that nine year detective story we were fortunate enough to find two independent and separate witnesses who had seen this work and who had told us and identical story about when it would be published and it's very exciting for millions of fans around the world.

>> there was rumors swirling around that there was a vault and we know more about the content of the books.

>> he is going to unite these two families so that the great master works of j.d. salinger will be the two families and the work completes this sort of great story of these two families that he has been working on since the early 40s.

>> speaking of family, j.d. j.d. salinger was private. did his family cooperate in the project? how did they feel about so much being revealed?

>> there was initial cooperation with one family member. that didn't workout. we have produced this film over 9 1/2 years. it's a labor of love for everyone involved in it. what we heard from his friends is it's the closest that anyone has ever seemed to getting inside his head. at the film festival , he knew him for years and he said you got him. that was the jerry i knew. former lovers who spent time with him also said that. so it's been quite rewarding. ken burns said that the film was extraordinary which was a huge endorsement for us and real validation for all the work we have done.

>> there are other revelations in the book. we don't have time to catalog them all but what in your mind -- the other thing that's most surprising to come out of this project?

>> i think how much the war deeply influenced j.d. salinger . world war ii broke him as ayman but made him as an artist. that was an extraordinary thing to understand. j.d. salinger landed on d-day and participated in a liberation of a concentration camp and married a german woman. there were so many fascinating details about him and his life.

>> and what do you think that famously private person would think about all of this being out there. so much of him being exposed.

>> what i sincerely hope is that he would expect the at the kad that went into telling his story right. it needed to be told. it's a fascinating story and we did everything in our power to tell it right.

>> thank you so much.

>> thank you for having me.

>> i should mention the biography is out today. the movie comes out on friday.