A Portrait of the Artist as a Predator

Ideas

I’ll never read “For Esmé — With Love and Squalor” the same way again, having just found out from a new biography that J.D. Salinger told one of his lovers, Jean Miller, that he could not have written that famous short story had he not met her, which would seem like a sweet, endearing thing to say were it not for the fact that Salinger met Miller when she was 14 years old. Salinger was 30.

(MORE:A Fresh Look at J.D. Salinger’s Life)

In the story, an American soldier in England befriends a precocious girl whom he first glances while she is practicing in a church choir. “Listening, I scanned all the children’s faces but watched one in particular, that of the child nearest me, on the end seat in the front row. She was about 13, with straight ash-blond hair of earlobe length, an exquisite forehead and…

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