J. D. Salinger wrote four books from 1951 to 1963 and then abruptly stopped publishing his work, although he continued to write daily for the next 45 years. During those silent years, Salinger went on to become one of the most successful (and richest) American writers. His most famous — and most studied work — is The Catcher in the Rye that has sold more than 65 million copies, ranking fifth in the list of the best-selling books of all time.
The reclusive author once wrote to a friend: “There is a marvellous peace in not publishing.” That peace will be shattered (Glass pun intended) beginning in 2015, when five works written by Salinger will be published according to biographers David Shields and Shane Salerno who released a documentary and companion book (both titled Salinger) in September 2013. In an interview, Salerno, discusses how the documentary and book shatter the myths about Salinger: “The myth that people have read about and believed for 60 years about JD Salinger is one of someone too pure to publish, too sensitive to be touched. We replace the myth of Salinger with an extraordinarily complex, deeply contradictory human being. Our book offers a complete revaluation and reinterpretation of the work and the life.” It is truly ironic that a writer who was fanatical about his privacy, is now the center of worldwide publicity and intense scrutiny.
Based on several sources, Shields and Salerno claim that Salinger left specific instructions to his executors (third wife, Colleen, and his son, Matthew) to publish five books between 2015 and 2020. According to the biographers, one of the books will be a collection of stories about the Caulfield family (centered on an early unpublished story titled The Last and Best of the Peter Pans). Perhaps we will learn that Caulfield is still ranting about phonies — but this time via Twitter and Facebook posts. Another book, The Complete Chronicle of the Glass Family will continue the stories of the Glass family begun in Franny and Zooey. Another book will be a World War II love story inspired by his relationship with his first wife (Sylvia Welter). Another book will deal with the experiences of a counterintelligence officer during WWII: A Counterintelligence Agent’s Diary. The last book will be a religious manual that explores Advaita Vedanta Hinduism. (Although Salinger was born Jewish Catholic, he explored Scientology, Buddhism, and finally gravitated toward Hinduism.) To date, the publisher or agent for theses new books have been disclosed. Nevertheless, Salerno justifiably observed: “[Salinger] is going to have a second act unlike any writer in history.”
For a dedicated fan of Salinger’s novels, purchasing a first edition of The Catcher in the Rye with a good quality dust jacket (published by Little, Brown & Company in 1951) will require very deep pockets: $64,000 to be exact. Regardless of their literary merit, the release of these five new books will provide Salinger aficionados with the opportunity to purchase reasonably-priced first editions of these long-anticipated novels.
For further reading: arts.nationalpost.com/2013/09/04/titles-detail-revealed-for-five-new-works-from-j-d-salinger-to-be-published-beginning-2015/