Oona & Salinger, Frédéric Beigbeder

“What interests me most about Capote and Salinger is Oona, his first love. I think she was their main Muse. It was the daughter of Eugene O’Neill, the great American playwright, Nobel Prize winner in literature in 1936. Biographers clash on the cause of the disappearance of Salinger in 1953: he would have been traumatized by the war, he would be became a member of the Zen Buddhist monk Krishna, he would have chosen New Hampshire to pay less taxes, he would have been disappointed by the literary community, his pride would have been hurt by a bad review of John Updike, or by wickedness Norman Mailer calling it “the greatest spirit that remained at the high school level”.

But nobody has considered the sentimental hypothesis: he never recovered from his break with Oona O’Neill. They were going out together when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Salinger went to war. He fought in atrocious conditions. From the army, he wrote to Oona dozens of fiery letters. He was not yet famous, he was only a poor lover, a tall black-haired dad who dreamed of going into literature.

Oona left to try her luck in Hollywood cinema. And poor J.D. obstinately, he loved her at a distance, he fell in love with an absent. Oona embodied life, the return to the homeland, the sweet, distant face that serves you as a Grail, when you crawl into the mud of a German forest, under shells. “F.B.