Category Archive 'J.D. Salinger'

21 Sep 2013

J.D. Salinger Left Behind Five Books

, ,

J.D. Salinger is dead, and therefore unable to prevent Shane Salerno from making a documentary film about him. The new film is being accompanied by the publication of a biography co-authored by the director and David Shields.

Cornel Bonca, in the LA Review of Books, tells us about both the move and the book, and assures us that “J.D. Salinger would have hated every single word and frame in both of them. Hated them, felt enraged, betrayed, flayed by them.”

The big news, though, is that the book spills the beans about the contents of the literary legacy that the self-exiled and reclusive author had been working on in secret for over half a century.

Salinger left behind five complete manuscripts of mostly new material, and there are plans afoot to publish them in book form, one a year, starting in 2015. The Salinger estate has not confirmed anything, but Shields and Salerno assure us that the “information was provided, documented, and verified by two independent and separate sources.” It gives one pause that these sources refuse to identify themselves — the book and film openly identify 99 percent of the sources of the rest of their material — but the news is such a bombshell that Shields’s and Salerno’s reputations clearly ride on it: if these books don’t see the light of day, Shields and Salerno will look like Geraldo Rivera opening up Al Capone’s vault. Assuming they’re on the level, though, this is the biggest literary “get” of the American 21st century. The books include a World War II novel featuring Sergeant X from “From Esme,” the most intriguing character outside Holden and the Glass family that Salinger ever created. It includes a novella, in diary form, written by a World War II counterintelligence officer — Salinger’s job during the war — “culminating in the Holocaust.” Given Salinger’s war experience and his painstaking writing process, these two works could conceivably add up to a contribution to American World War II literature on a par with the work of Mailer, Jones, Heller, and Pynchon. A third manuscript is, we’re told, a “manual of Vedanta,” a book explaining Vedanta Hinduism (and presumably, its relation to Salinger’s work), “with short stories, almost fables, woven into the text.” Finally, there are two compilations, one entitled The Family Glass, gathering all the published Glass stories together with five new stories about Seymour, the last of which “deals with Seymour’s life after death.” Given that once Salinger got going on the Glasses, his “stories” inevitably metastasized into novellas, this book is likely to be a real tome, and might conceivably be the greatest contribution Salinger makes to American letters, dealing as it must, with the question of how to live a genuine spiritual life in a postwar, post-Holocaust world. Then there’s the final book, which Shields and Salerno describe as “a complete history of the Caulfield family,” gathering Catcher, six previously published (and I would imagine, wholly rewritten) Caulfield stories written in the early-to-mid 1940s, as well as new stories featuring, presumably, Holden, Phoebe, Allie, and D.B. Caulfield. Five new Salinger books! Doubtless, they will make us entirely reconceive Salinger’s current oeuvre. If the books are even close in quality to Catcher or Franny & Zooey, they might reroute the course of late 20th-century American literature.

29 Jan 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Osama is a warmist. I guess that figures.

Bad news for literature. Patrician Louis Auchincloss dies at 92 (WaPo obit), and Zen recluse J.D. Salinger passed away at 91 (London Times obit).

Bad news for scholarship. King’s College London is planning to eliminate Britain’s only chair in paleography. No money in that, you see.

Why so few conservative or libertarian academics? Two researchers propose “path dependence” as the explanation.

Five stages of democrat grief over the health care reform bill.

22 Jun 2009

Holden Caulfield in Worse Trouble Than Ever

, , , ,

The Times reports that the Holden Caulfield alienation franchise is currently under attack by brand infringement.

(Last Wednesday,) a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order forbidding publication in the United States of “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,” a takeoff on — J. D. Salinger’s lawyers say rip-off of — “The Catcher in the Rye,” written by a young Swedish writer styling himself J. D. California.

Until the judge makes her final ruling, Mr. Salinger’s fans will be spared the prospect of encountering Holden Caulfield, the ultimate alienated teenager, as a lonely old codger who escapes from a retirement home and his beloved younger sister, Phoebe, as a drug addict sinking into dementia.

But, matters are far worse than that: poor Holden’s 1950s vocabulary and teenage preoccupations have grown out-of-date, and nobody even feels sorry for him any more.

Holden may have bigger problems than the insults of irreverent parodists and other “phonies,” as Holden would put it. Even as Mr. Salinger, who is 90 and in ailing health, seeks to keep control of his most famous creation, there are signs that Holden may be losing his grip on the kids.

“The Catcher in the Rye,” published in 1951, is still a staple of the high school curriculum, beloved by many teachers who read and reread it in their own youth. The trouble is today’s teenagers. Teachers say young readers just don’t like Holden as much as they used to. What once seemed like courageous truth-telling now strikes many of them as “weird,” “whiny” and “immature.”

The alienated teenager has lost much of his novelty, said Ariel Levenson, an English teacher at the Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Holden’s home turf. She added that even the students who liked the book tend to find the language — “phony,” “her hands were lousy with rocks,” the relentless “goddams” — grating and dated.

“Holden Caulfield is supposed to be this paradigmatic teenager we can all relate to, but we don’t really speak this way or talk about these things,” Ms. Levenson said, summarizing a typical response. At the public charter school where she used to teach, she said, “I had a lot of students comment, ‘I can’t really feel bad for this rich kid with a weekend free in New York City.’ ”


Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted in the 'J.D. Salinger' Category.











Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark