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Mary McCarthy to JD Salinger
McCarthy was known for her lacerating takedowns. Perhaps her most famous is this one about author Lillian Hellman: "every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." But this cutting criticism of JD Salinger is particularly harsh because it narrows in on every author's greatest fear, namely, that they are not only egomaniacal, but also that they have nothing to be vain about. Ouch.
"I don't like Salinger, not at all. That last thing [ Franny and Zooey] isn't a novel anyway, whatever it is. I don't like it. Not at all. It suffers from this terrible sort of metropolitan sentimentality and it's so narcissistic. And to me, also, it seemed so false, so calculated. Combining the plain man with an absolutely megalomaniac egotism. I simply can't stand it."