In a sentence, Charyn passes the literary torch ... Salinger’s disillusionment reaches its climax in 1945, as he helps liberate one of the camps at Dachau, in a masterful and stomach-churning set piece ... In outline, Sergeant Salinger is true to history. But it also strains to connect the author with his literary creations ... the blankness grates a little — shouldn’t a historical fiction provide a fuller picture of a person, one that the historical record can’t provide? Charyn’s Salinger is an empty vessel, collecting ennui and experiences, despairing for some way to clarify it all in fiction. He would get there, somehow. But in this novel, as with much of Salinger’s life, we have to accept a certain amount of mystery.
Charyn offers a fresh perspective by focusing largely on Salinger’s time in the Counterintelligence Corps in Europe during WWII. This proves to be a nuanced and acutely perceptive approach as Charyn artfully renders the many battles and atrocities Salinger witnesses ... Charyn offers an astute psychological portrait of an elusive yet vastly compelling subject.
... [a] literary tour de force ... Charyn makes a persuasive case for how America’s most famous reclusive author endured the horrors of war and carried these memories into his postwar writing career. With standout scenes, Charyn vividly portrays Sonny’s journey from slick short story writer to suffering artist. The winning result humanizes a legend.