he probably just has a thing against maynards

One of my favorite authors, JD Salinger, had something of an affair in the early 70’s with a young coed from Yale. Her name was Joyce Maynard, and she wrote a book about their time together. To my knowledge, she and I are not related. We do have in common, however, the fact that we both have website urls that spell out our names. (I have MarkMaynard.com and she has JoyceMaynard.com.)

Somewhere in this house of ours, I have a newspaper headline that says something like, “Salinger Lures Nubile Young Maynard into Sexual Liaison.” It’s one of my most prized possessions.

I haven’t read her book about being with Salinger. I, like many others, was kind of pissed when I’d heard that she was writing a tell-all book about the famous recluse who lured her with a trail of letters to his home. I was even more pissed the following year when she auctioned off the sixty-some letters that he had written to her. (Someone bought them at auction and promptly destroyed them, saying that it was no one’s business what they contained.)

Her story, as I recall, was lurid. According to her, the much older Salinger (by around 40 years) tried to take her virginity, but settled for oral sex, which she administered for some six months, during which time he berated her and encouraged her bulimia. Whether that’s true or not, no one knows but them. Either way, it doesn’t make him any less great of a writer.

A few weeks ago, my friend Jeff sent Mr. Salinger a letter. A few days afterward, it came back to Jeff, along with a stamp saying that it had been refused. I had the same experience a few years ago. I tried to write to Mr. Salinger, thinking that perhaps I, with my wit and a few good ball-shaving anecdotes, could lure him out of his shell. I entertained the notion that he and I could become friends.

When I got my envelope back in the mail, unopened, I was a bit demoralized. Trying to make myself feel a little better about the rejection, I created a scenario where he was tempted to open my envelope, until he had seen that, like Joyce before me, I was from the Maynard bloodline. To this day, I like to think that it is her who kept me and JD Salinger from becoming close personal friends.

getting through: the salinger project
I’ve had an idea for a while now, that it would be interesting to have a competition to see who, if any of us, could break through the wall of privacy and get a letter into the hands of JD Salinger. I have never known anyone to have a letter sent to them by Salinger, but I know that such a thing must be possible. I know that there exists some combination of words and images that, if packaged correctly, could illicit a positive response. The puzzle is how to do it. How does one get him to read the message and then to respond?

I have ideas.

Most of my ideas involve finding a thin, intelligent 18 year old woman and having her pose for photographs which I then paste to the outside of an envelope. That, I think, should get the envelope into the house. The rest is a secret.

So, we could do this a few different ways. We could open it up to competition and several of us can take a stab at it, or we can work together to see if we can make any headway. I’m open to it either way. As my “Operation Whitney Lover” is a little slow to get started, I am looking for another project to fill my time. It might as well be this. So, challenge me or work with me.

Let other people solve the problems of the Middle East. Let us work to coax the great Mr. Salinger out from under the couch.

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  1. Peter Karmanos
    Posted August 18, 2009 at 1:36 pm | Permalink


    “I tried to write to Mr. Salinger, thinking that perhaps I, with my wit and a few good ball-shaving anecdotes, could lure him out of his shell.”

  2. Kelly Girl
    Posted August 18, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    speaking of ball shaving and mr. salinger, i wonder how much one of his pubes would go for on ebay

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