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Extract from JD Salinger: A Life Raised High

Kenneth Slawenski

September 1944.

Although Salinger professed little admiration for Hemingway, he was keen to pay homage to the great writer when they were both in Paris during the war.

Salinger was in Paris for only a few days but they were the happiest he would experience during the war. His recollection of them is contained in a letter to Whit Burnett (his close friend) on September 9, which remains the most euphoric that he ever wrote.

To the military triumph, Salinger had added his own, more personal, victory: he had spent time with Ernest Hemingway in Paris. Hemingway was serving as a war correspondent and had reportedly managed to slip into Paris ahead of the liberating armies. Salinger knew this and decided to seek him out. There was no question in Jerry’s mind where to find Hemingway. He jumped into his Jeep and made straight for the Ritz Hotel.

Hemingway greeted Salinger like an old friend. He claimed to be familiar with Salinger’s writings and to have recognized him from his picture in Esquire. When Hemingway asked if Salinger had any new works on him, he located a copy of The Saturday Evening Post containing The Last Day of the Last Furlough, which had been published that July. Hemingway read the story and was impressed. Then the two writers talked shop over drinks, to the great relief of Salinger, who had been longing for literary conversation.

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