September 06, 1999 12:00 PM

by Paul Alexander

J.D. Salinger, America’s most famous literary hermit, successfully derailed one biographer’s attempt to pry open his life by going to court in the ’80s to keep unpublished letters private. He has no reason to protest Paul Alexander’s effort. Since those close to Salinger have clammed up (ex-lover Joyce Maynard saved her goodies for her own tell-all), you won’t learn anything important here, not even whether Salinger had a lousy childhood. The creepy fans who still make pilgrimages to Salinger’s home nearly 50 years after the publication of The Catcher in the Rye stand a better chance of catching a glimpse of him than do readers of this bio. (Renaissance, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Slim pickings

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