How to Become a Recluse

DATELINE: Social Isolation by Choice

You do not become a recluse overnight. If you are in the style of B. Traven, J.D. Salinger, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, or other celebrities, you have withdrawn from public scrutiny—because of public scrutiny.

Yet, there is at the base of these departures from social exposure a feeling of having suffered disrespect in your privacy and personal space. In order to guarantee it, the subjects removed themselves from easy access by all levels of society.

Imagine their horror today with social media, Internet intrusions, and tracking by advertisers. Whatever you research, whatever you question, however you reach out, it is saved by some little cookie somewhere. You can only cut so many cords to remain independent and isolated.

The last option is simply to withdraw from any public course of activity. It is easier than you might think.

You may go out on a shopping trip, though this too is less likely if you are willing to use Internet services for grocery delivery or Amazon products. You do not go out to theatre, movies, concerts, or the like after years of doing so. Your main interaction is with delivery service workers who likely drop off materials at your door—sending you an online notice. You open the door, grab your item, and shut it again.

You may go out once in a while to start your car, drive to the doctor, or go to the local service station for fuel. You may try to avoid credit cards, but it is difficult if you want to stay apart from society. You have to pay for upkeep of property with a crew of unreliable snow shoveling grass mowers. You could simply let the property deteriorate, but that may bring intrusions.

If you no longer work or work at home, you can increase your isolation. A writer is a perfect avocation in that regard, though you cannot meet readers in libraries, bookstores, or classes to whet their reading appetite. They see your author page, that is updated now and then.

You may limit your friends to phone calls, or now the more isolating text message. There is contact ongoing to an ever-decreasing number of people. As you grow old, you may even find your contacts decreased by infirmity and death, dementia and lack of response.

Family is easy to disregard if you are unmarried and have no children. Nephews and nieces prefer a distant, oddball relative who will one day out of the blue die and leave them money. No contact beyond that is required.

You may learn how uninvolved people are with your existence. Once separated, your distance becomes normal and your contacts are even more deeply absent for weeks, then months. Your well-being check-up is hardly a priority with anyone. Don’t worry about wellness checks.

If winter is long and cold, you may not step outside—and you have a legitimate excuse or explanation that neighbors accept. Good fences still make good neighbors—and those who are quiet and invisible are even better to the locals.

You may be seen going to the mailbox or putting out the trash, unless you do this at odd hours. Those actions then become mysterious and occur almost magically without anyone thinking twice. You are at long last a recluse.

Wry Catcher: Why J.D. Salinger?

DATELINE:   Movie Bio

REAL SALINGER Angry Salinger Wants to be Alone

Director Danny Strong joins a list of people who are violating every standard that J.D. Salinger lived by. He hated publicity and adoration of koo-koo bird fans.

You could say the new movie of Salinger’s life Rebel in the Rye is nothing short of a misnomer, however well-intended and well-done.

We are always impressed with Nicholas Hoult, who again here, gives us an American New Yorker accent and a man who lost his mind in World War II after seeing horror up close. The British actor has turned into a new nationality in his movie roles, and adds brown contact lenses to cover up those startling blue eyes that he is famous for. It is another superior performance in a growing litany of interesting films.

The movie has one big problem: Kevin Spacey. He plays the mentor and admirer of Salinger, editor and discoverer Whit Burnett, who seems almost to have a fetish when it comes to his prize pupil. Alas, Spacey’s personal history almost circumvents the movie and makes us think he was groping Nick Hoult between scenes, or that Burnett was groping Salinger. Yikes.

The producers have left Spacey’s name off the publicity because it’s such a turnoff. Not everyone has Ridley Scott’s money to simply replace Spacey with computer effects.

It’s a shame because Spacey’s presence does distract, though his performance is brilliant—and the movie proceeds on its mission to present us with a writer who loved to write, but hated his readers.

Salinger was no genius, but he had his finger on the pulse of Zen Buddhist seclusion. The attempt to turn him into his own character, Holden Caulfield, seems a bit forced. Boswell was not Sam Johnson, though he wrote about him.

The film is worth it for fans of Salinger, even if they are not wearing red hunting caps and stalking writers who hide out in New Hampshire.

Rebel in the Rye Catches Nicholas Hoult

DATELINE:  See You in September, Release Date


Real J.D. Salinger and the Real Nick Hoult

If we were to pick our favorite recluses, J.D. Salinger is up there with B. Traven and Greta Garbo.

Now comes forth an intriguing film about the years before Jerome David Salinger went private-mad.

Nicholas Hoult has sent out a Facebook message about his new movie, Rebel in the Rye.

The handsome young British actor has perfected his American accent enough to go for playing a New York writer in the 1940s.

J.D. Salinger famously published but one novel and preferred the genre of short story and novella. Who can blame him? His greatest hit is titled Catcher in the Rye, which a few people have read over the past 60 years.

Salinger would never let Hollywood ever come near his cherished novel. And, they threw oodles of money at his feet, but he was adamant.

So, how would J.D. feel about a movie depicting his post-traumatic experiences in World War II as the backdrop for writing his “grand” novel. Heavens, Holden Caulfield would have a fit over calling his story grand.

And, boy, would he throw a fit over this movie! Privacy is certainly dead nowadays.

Nicholas Hoult is always fascinating to watch, but he may seem a touch different here. It’s the brown contact lenses to cover up those startling blue eyes that vaulted him to fame among devoted distaff viewers.

With Kevin Spacey as his demanding editor, Hoult’s Salinger comes across as chummy, not reclusive. Ah, youth.

The best we can give you at this point is a trailer. So here goes.

So here goes.

Nicholas Hoult’s Latest Frightful Role

DATELINE:  A Career in Cult


Kill Your Friends is the latest movie tackled by Nicholas Hoult.

Despite his often terrible film choices, like those dreadful X-Men movies, we have greater respect for his talent. In Kill Your Friends, Hoult wants to emulate Christian Bale’s performance in American Psycho.

He plays a 1990s music label producer who takes the Richard III approach to ambition. He murders his way to the top in an industry of talentless and brain-dead non-starters.

Since we agree with his character that the music itself is commercial crap done by idiots, we can understand how he comes to loathe himself. We do draw the line at bumping off the bad singers and bands.

Hoult’s character is ruthless, an asexual, or pansexual creep. Like Ted Bundy, the character stands out wherever he goes. He has movie star looks written all over him.

Hoult has made a career of fighting his startling blue eyes and natural charisma—as in the new Mad Max movie, or even the trifle in which he played a zombie.

He continues to try to transcend his good looks and expand his acting chops. You don’t find many roles like the Angel of Death beautiful student in A Single Man.

Hoult hopes to strike up superstardom with future roles. He will play J.D. Salinger in the up-coming cult movie Rebel in the Rye, and he will make an equally big splash among gay fans when he plays Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ producer who was in love with John Lennon when it films next year.

We will keep tabs on Hoult.

Tom Brady Becomes the New Age Hermit


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Smiling, affable, sociable, and good-humored, we always could count on Tom Brady. He posted funny stuff on his Facebook page, but that was then. This is now.

He was social media gone glamorous. That was before Deflategate. Now we have the invisible man of the NFL.

But since Roger Goodell whipped up a deflategated theory in his lab, we have found Tom turned from the piper’s son into something akin to Greta Garbo.

Yes, we never would have believed it possible. Tom Brady has morphed into the reclusive, press-phobic, silent icon of the old silver screen.

Garbo would laugh! Garbo would talk! We were thrilled if it happened. Now, the same could be said for Tom Brady.

Tom has not yet turned into Rajon Rondo, another Boston creature from the lagoon of avoidance and passive aggression. Yet, we feel that the void left when Rondo fled Boston has left a gaping hole in the ozone of recluses.

B. Traven, look out. Tom has found the Treasure of Sierra Madre and is ready to blow that gold dust into the face of Roger Goodell.

Stanley Kubrick was a hermit with a shining. And Tom Brady may shine his light in the maze called the NFL.

J.D. Salinger, up there in the lost wood of New Hampshire, is now gone, but Tom may be ready to assume the mantle, raise the roof beams, and shoot banana fish.

If Tom Brady is ultimately suspended for four games, we may never hear a word from his lips again. He will retreat into the aerie created by Bill Belichick, transformed into a man of monosyllables and dyspeptic distemper.

Oh, the Humanity, again.

Tom Brady has entered the Bermuda Triangle of Fame.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

DATELINE: Recluses We Love


Sound of One Fist Banging on a Car Window

J.D. Salinger published one novel during his lifetime and thumbed his nose at the publishing world and the fawning fans for the next 50 years of his life.

Becoming a recluse may be an important spiritual decision, but the critics of this documentary directed by Shane Salerno don’t see it that way. This film moves in the direction of depicting Salinger as his own label: a fiction writer who grew sick of being hounded by fans who spent half their lives in a Zen Buddhist monastery and the other half as an outpatient sending the writer mash notes.

That did not dissuade the people who went to the woods of New Hampshire to bother this man, encouraging him to build a bunker to write in peace.

Now that he’s dead, J.D. Salinger’s private production of manuscripts will be published over the next few years. That should either cement his literary legacy, or put cement overshoes on his importance.

The documentary does not have much to work with: the man dispensed only a few morsels to the public over his 90+ years of life. And, the crazed fans know every detail by heart as if they were stars on a radio show for precocious children.

The documentary has a complex flashback narrative that may disorient those who like the linear, but to produce a mystery about a reclusive writer may require a few “Hollywood” writing tricks in the mode of Joe Mankiewicz. Of course, Salinger only allowed one short story to be made into a movie—and he hated that. So, his ‘fans’ hate this little film.

We found it fascinating, like the character of a man who belonged to the great generation of World War II veterans. Salinger created a timeless icon in Holden Caulfield as The Catcher in the Rye, and that made him open game for cultists and self-centered readers who thought they had some personal connection.

Salinger was a character in W.P. Kinsella’s book Shoeless Joe, but fought tooth and nail to keep his name out of the movie Field of Dreams. He stopped bootleg copies of his early stories from being circulated. All of this fell within his right as a living writer who sold 60 millions copies and made a fortune.

One of his friends, A.E. Hotchner called him the literary Howard Hughes. If you like Glenn Gould, Greta Garbo, B. Traven, and Emily Dickinson, you will want to see how J.D. Salinger fits into that crew. We are predisposed to this film and prejudiced, having moved to the woods because we want to be alone.