From Our Archive
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Famous Literary Recluses

MOST READ
De Boer on the move in the dining room, the main bar and open kitchen in view.

Cuisine

Old-Fashioned Luxury, With Simple Ingredients

With Stissing House, Clare de Boer brings her fresh, unfussy food to Pine Plains,...

Change of Season

Books

Change of Season

Sloane Crosley picks out the best new books to take you from summer to fall.

The Ideal Bag

Fashion

The Ideal Bag

Métier’s Closer is the day-to-night briefcase of your dreams.

Thomas Pynchon, Ca. 1955

Masterpiece: Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)
Bete Noire:
Military-Scientific-Industrial Complex
Legal Entanglement:
Made CNN not identify him in illicit footage
Big Moment on the Silver Screen:
Paul Thomas Anderson is adapting Pynchon’s last novel, Inherent Vice, with Joaquin Phoenix.
Big Moment on the Small Screen:
Pynchon actually voices the cartoon version of himself on The Simpsons.
Random Side Effects of Literary Influence:
Gravity’s Rainbow inspired the Devo song “Whip It.”
Wacko Urban Myths:
J. D. Salinger was actually Thomas Pynchon.
Upcoming Works:
Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press), a satire of tech culture pre-9/11, out September 17
Best “Leave Me Alone” Quote:
“‘Recluse’ is a code word generated by journalists... meaning, ‘doesn’t like to talk to reporters.’”

J. D. Salinger, Ca. 1952

Masterpiece: The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
Bete Noire:
“Phonies”
Legal Entanglement:
Stopped the U.S. publication of an unauthorized Catcher in the Rye sequel
Big Moment on the Silver Screen:
Will Smith’s “Manifesto of Hate” monologue in Six Degrees of Separation
Big Moment on the Small Screen:
PBS’s upcoming new American Masters documentary, Salinger (also in theaters on September 6)
Random Side Effects of Literary Influence:
The Catcher in the Rye inspired John Lennon’s killer.
Wacko Urban Myths:
Salinger left a trove of writing to be published after his death in 2010.
Upcoming Works:
The Private War of J. D. Salinger (Simon & Schuster), a new biography, out September 3
Best “Leave Me Alone” Quote:
“I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it.”

Harper Lee, Ca. 1962

Masterpiece: To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
Bete Noire:
Racism
Legal Entanglement:
Currently suing son-in-law of ex-agent for mishandling her copyright
Big Moment on the Silver Screen:
To Kill a Mockingbird won Gregory Peck an Oscar for playing the world’s only noble lawyer.
Big Moment on the Small Screen:
Past American Masters documentary Harper Lee: Hey, Boo
Random Side Effects of Literary Influence:
To Kill a Mockingbird inspired civil rights activists—and everyone, really.
Wacko Urban Myths:
Truman Capote actually wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.
Upcoming Works:
A deposition for her lawsuit?
Best “Leave Me Alone” Quote:
“Well, it’s better to be silent than to be a fool.”

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