Salinger beat his retreat soon after. He went to England to avoid publicity. After the novel went into its second printing, he ordered Little, Brown to remove his photograph from the book jacket. In 1953, he moved to New Hampshire, holing up in a remote rural spot of the sort that Caulfield longed to escape to. Salinger's interest in Zen Buddhism deepened.
Despite mixed reviews, "Nine Stories" spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list.
In this period, Salinger focused on the various members of the eccentric Glass family, which consisted of Irish-Jewish vaudevillians Bessie and Les and their brilliant children: Seymour, Buddy, twins Walt and Wake, Zooey, Boo Boo and Franny. Fans lined up at newsstands whenever a new Glass story was published in the New Yorker.
"Franny and Zooey" was a bestseller despite some of the harshest reviews of Salinger's career. "To be confronted with the seven faces of Salinger, all wise and lovable and simple, is to gaze into a terrifying narcissus pool," Mary McCarthy wrote.
John Updike allowed that when "all reservations have been entered in the correctly unctuous and apprehensive tone, about the direction [Salinger] has taken, it remains to acknowledge that it is a direction, and the refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all."
Salinger's last published word on the Glasses came in the long and rambling "Hapworth 16, 1924." Consisting largely of a letter from camp written by an exceptionally precocious, 7-year-old Seymour, the story met with much critical disdain.
Nonetheless, the announcement more than three decades after its appearance in the New Yorker that it would be published as a book made headlines across the country. It prompted New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani to reassess the Glass saga, including "Hapworth," which she concluded was "a sour, implausible, and, sad to say, completely charmless story."
Shortly after Kakutani's essay appeared, Orchises Press, the tiny Alexandria, Va., publishing company that had planned to reissue "Hapworth," announced that publication had been indefinitely postponed. The author, as usual, had no comment.
Salinger was tall (over 6 feet) and darkly handsome. He married Claire Douglas, his second wife, in 1955, when she was a 19-year-old Radcliffe student and he was a 34-year-old rising literary star. The marriage produced two children: Margaret Ann, born in 1955, and Matthew, born in 1960.
Margaret Salinger, who became a lay minister, penned a stinging memoir called "Dream Catcher" (2000), in which she describes an exceedingly lonely childhood: "My father discouraged living visitors to such an extent that an outsider, looking in, might have observed a wasteland of isolation." His marriage to Douglas ended in divorce in the late 1960s.
In addition to his son, daughter and three grandsons, Salinger is survived by his third wife, Colleen O'Neill, a former nurse about 50 years his junior, whom he was believed to have married in the late 1980s.
His most publicized relationship began in 1972, when the then-53-year-old author began corresponding with Yale University undergraduate Joyce Maynard, who was being touted in the press as her generation's Holden Caulfield after the publication of her celebrated New York Times Magazine cover story, "An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life." When Salinger invited Maynard to live with him in New Hampshire, she dropped out of school and moved in for 10 months.
In a 1998 memoir, "At Home in the World," Maynard devoted several chapters to their relationship, writing of their inability to have sexual intercourse because of a medical condition of hers, his absorption in homeopathy and his devotion to Reichian therapy. According to Maynard, Salinger also regularly induced himself to vomit after eating foods he deemed unhealthful and taught her to do the same.
Their relationship ended after a Time magazine reporter obtained Salinger's unlisted phone number and asked him to comment on a story about Maynard, who had a book coming out. Salinger, apparently incensed by this intrusion, kicked Maynard out of the house.
Salinger successfully barred the use of his personal letters in Hamilton's 1988 biography, "In Search of J.D. Salinger." Ironically, the author's lawsuit resulted in broad public access to the very correspondence he was trying to suppress: In order to protect his letters, Salinger had to place them on file in the copyright office in New York, where anyone could read them for a modest fee.
In a deposition for the Hamilton case, Salinger said he was still writing fiction. And Maynard said Salinger had completed at least two books by the early 1970s but kept the manuscripts in a safe, where he wished them to remain. Describing publishing as an "embarrassment," he told Maynard: "The poor boob who lets himself in for it might as well walk down Madison Avenue with his pants down."
Nonetheless, he was an inspiration for other writers, such as W.P. Kinsella, who made Salinger a character in his 1982 novel "Shoeless Joe," and Don DeLillo, who told Esquire magazine that "Mao II," his 1991 novel about a reclusive novelist, was born in the instant that he noticed a tabloid photograph of Salinger with a haunted look on his face.
Novelist Herbert Gold once asked Salinger for permission to reprint one of his stories in an anthology. As Gold recounted in the 2002 book "Letters to J.D. Salinger," edited by Chris Kubica and Will Hochman, Salinger wrote back but the answer, of course, was no.
Gold lost the letter but never forgot Salinger's last words:
"I have my reasons."