Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Tag: J.D. Salinger (1-5 of 5)

Three unpublished J.D. Salinger stories leak online

An anonymous uploader leaked three previously unpublished J.D. Salinger stories this week. Previously only available at research libraries, the famously reclusive author’s “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” “Paula,” and “Birthday Boy” have apparently been traced to an eBay auction that ended on Sept. 23 with an astonishly low winning bid of £67.50 (or about $110). According to BuzzFeed, which first reported on the leak, Salinger expert Kenneth Slawenski has attested to the authenticity of the text.

“The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” was previously only available at Princeton University, and the other two were held at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center. The stories appear as PDFs of a printed (and presumably illegal) booklet with all three stories, though the printer has yet to be determined.

Most fascinating of the trio is “Bowling Balls,” which was not supposed to be published until Jan. 27, 2060 (50 years after Salinger’s death), per an agreement with Princeton. A sort of prequel to Catcher in the Rye, the story was originally written for Harper’s Bazaar, and many believe it to be Salinger’s foremost unpublished work.

A never-before-seen photo of J.D. Salinger from new documentary and biography -- EXCLUSIVE


If Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger were alive today, he probably wouldn’t be happy with the attention a new movie and book about his life are getting. The famously reclusive author is the subject of Salinger, a documentary (out Sept. 6) that will be released jointly with a biography (out Sept. 3) of the same name. Salinger guarded his public image obsessively after he became famous, but director and screenwriter Shane Salerno managed to find brand new facts and photos after years of research and hundreds of interviews. The Weinstein Company has been keeping the bombshells Salerno uncovered under wraps, but EW has obtained a never-before-seen photo of Salinger from the project. Salerno explains how he found this photo and what it means. READ FULL STORY

Author Jay McInerney on J.D. Salinger

The death of J.D. Salinger yesterday has had reverberations across the landscape of modern American literature. Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City and Story of My Life, gives EW his take on the author’s legacy.

“When I heard about Salinger’s death yesterday I realized I hadn’t thought about him in quite a while. He left the stage a long time ago and his influence is so pervasive that it’s easy to forget how different the cultural landscape would probably be if he’d never come along. Like Mark Twain, whom he mimicked in the opening line of Catcher in the Rye, he injected a new slangy colloquial tone into our literature. It’s impossible to imagine the work of Philip Roth or John Updike without his influence. Several generations later, writers like David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers still seemed to be channeling Holden.

“Twenty-six years ago, when I published my first novel, more than a few reviewers remarked on my indebtedness to Salinger. Some commentators went so far as to suggest that my publisher had deliberately mimicked the cover art of the paperback edition of Catcher. I wasn’t necessarily displeased but I was baffled; back in 1984, it had been years since I’d read Salinger or really thought about him. In graduate school, we weren’t reading or discussing Franny and Zooey and I wasn’t remotely conscious of any influence when I was writing Bright Lights, Big City. I’d read Salinger in high school. I said as much in interviews. I’d point to what I thought of as more obvious influences like Hunter S. Thompson and Raymond Carver without stopping to consider the extent to which they were influenced by Salinger. I guess I was writing under the influence of Salinger, whether or not I was conscious of it. He’s the most influential American writer since Hemingway.

“As for the purported trove of fiction, I’m skeptical. Not of its existence, but of its quality. Anyone who’s read “Seymour: An Introduction” or most especially his last published work, “Hapworth 16, 1924” will wonder just how readable his later fiction is. “Hapworth” is a rambling, self referential, improbable letter home written by an alleged seven year old at camp. By the time he wrote it, Salinger seems to have decided to dispense with most of the niceties of storytelling, and to be talking to himself more rather than to the readers of Catcher in the Rye. I suspect we are going to be disappointed, but I would love to be proven wrong.”

Is a 'Catcher in the Rye' movie possible?

Hollywood has for years yearned to get their hands on that holy grail of screen rights: The Catcher in the Rye. Now that author J.D. Salinger has passed away, the question looms even larger.  Much is being made of a 1957 letter to an enquirer in which he lays out his antipathy towards selling his work to filmmakers, but leaves open the door to a posthumous adaptation. In it he states: “Firstly, it is possible that one day the rights will be sold. Since there’s an ever-looming possibility that I won’t die rich, I toy very seriously with the idea of leaving the unsold rights to my wife and daughter as a kind of insurance policy. It pleasures me no end, though, I might quickly add, to know that I won’t have to see the results of the transaction.”

For years, Salinger refused outright any requests to adapt his iconic 1951 novel. Much of his ire was rooted in a 1949 failure from Samuel Goldwyn called My Foolish Heart, which turned his short story “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” into a mushy, saccharine mess. From that point on, Salinger turned down a long list of notables, including Goldwyn (who had the nerve to ask for more), Billy Wilder, Elia Kazan (for the stage rights), and Steven Spielberg.

Whether or not Salinger retained the attitude expressed in that letter over 50 years later — after having separated from his wife and after the named daughter, Margaret, wrote a scathing memoir of him — remains to be seen. But it is interesting to ponder whether or not we could be seeing a Catcher movie any time soon. Salinger believed it was a “very novelistic novel” and thus did not necessarily lend itself well to adaptation in other media, but clearly the bulk of Hollywood has disagreed for decades.

What do you think?  Do you want to see Holden on screen?

Stephen King on J.D. Salinger: 'The last of the great post-WWII American writers'

I wasn’t a huge Salinger fan, but I’m sorry to hear of his passing — the way you’d feel if you heard an eccentric, short-tempered, but often fascinating uncle had passed away. Not as great a loss as Beverly Jensen (her marvelous The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay will be published this summer), who wrote only one book before dying of cancer at the age of 49, or of Raymond Carver, who was barely into his 50s; Salinger was, after all, in his 90s.

But it is a milestone of sorts, because Salinger was the last of the great post-WWII American writers, and in Holden Caulfield — maybe the greatest American-boy narrator since Huck Finn — he created an authentic Voice of the Age: funny, anxious, at odds with himself, and badly lost.

Salinger’s death may answer one question that has intrigued readers, writers, and critics for nearly half a century — what literary trove of unpublished work may he have left behind? Much? Some? Or none? Salinger is gone, but if we’re lucky, he may have more to say, even so.

Latest Videos in Books


TV Recaps

Powered by VIP