Tied to the mast
…but orange now and black

Apparently it’s Salinger Week on the Internet

Getting things rolling was a report of an unauthroized sequel to Cather in the Rye. Reports the CS Monitor:

It certainly got the blogosphere buzzing. But that doesn’t make it true. Yesterday’s Guardian ran an interview with a writer named John David California who says he’s the author of an unauthorized sequel to J.D. Salinger’s 1951 classic “Catcher in the Rye.”The sequel is called “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,” to be published next month in the U.K. by Windupbird Publishing.

Salinger is suing. Continues the CS Monitor in an article yesterday:

Salinger holds the copyright on the book. His lawsuit asserts that, “The sequel is not a parody and it does not comment upon or criticize the original. It is a rip-off pure and simple.”

Extrapolating from his seeming intellectual property radicalism, Slate worried…

And why would someone as publicity-intolerant as Salinger go to the trouble (ultimately, if the case goes far enough, he might even have to testify in public) of suing the author of the Holden sequel? Perhaps because he still cares about the character and the way it’s been read and he doesn’t want any more naive misreadings—by pro- or anti-Salingerites—to distort the nature of his work.

Indeed, these misreadings may be the problem that caused Salinger to retreat from the world in the first place. The cult that reads The Catcher in the Rye as an endorsement of Holden Caulfield’s callow, purist point of view and obsessively badgered Salinger as a kind of guru could have driven him into hiding. In fact, I once wrote a piece in which I essentially blamed the assassination of John Lennon on the misreading of Catcher by assassin Mark David Chapman, who carried around a copy of the book and proclaimed that he had killed Lennon because he’d become a “phony,” just like the ones Holden hated. Of course, anyone who brings to Catcher a somewhat more sophisticated sensibility than Mark David Chapman, an awareness that novelists often use unreliable narrators and, you know, ironic distancing, can see that it’s a novel about the conflict between Holden’s naive and narcissistic juvenile romanticism (the wcorld is full of “phonies”—duh!) and the kind of accommodations he needs to make to its corruption to survive.

Forty-odd years of work in silence! It feels like a tragedy or, at least, a mystery: Was he inscribing more and more on less and less like biblical angels-on-pinhead types? Or did he take off and grow and soar in some way beyond our expectations?

I don’t think Salinger was anywhere near what novelist Nabokov was at his best, but he published only one novel. Who knows what he was capable of?

So here’s my plea: Mr. Salinger, forgive me my genuinely earnest and well-meaning if intrusive-sounding request, but could you reassure us that—if you have been writing all this time—we’ll get to see some of it before … we die?

Must I drive up to New Hampshire and put another letter in his mailbox? Anyway, I started reading Catcher again. It’s still good. If you don’t misread it.

Luckily the Onion has the scoop:

When asked what he thought of today’s novelists, and whether he had plans to publish any new work, Salinger replied that he loved it when the helicopter crashes and John Connor gets grabbed by that terminator that’s only half a torso, and then he blows it away with the mounted machine gun.

Besides setting the literary community abuzz, Salinger’s decision to come out of seclusion has allowed scholars access to his massive archive of unpublished work for the first time. So far, critics have examined three never-before-seen novels, eight novellas, and more than two dozen short stories—all of which appear to be Terminator fan fiction.

“But make no mistake,” said Salinger expert Professor Duane Hartworth of nearby Dartmouth College, “this is without a doubt the most personal and affecting body of Terminator fan fiction ever discovered.”

Salinger had only one negative comment for interviewers: He condemned the TV spin-off series The Sarah Connor Chronicles, saying that people who like that show are “a bunch of goddamn phonies.”

I would read JD Salinger’s Terminator fan fic over and over.


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