J.D. Salinger postsSunday August 25, 2013
Raise High the Bookshelves, Carpenters: More Salinger Books on the Way
Since I'm the man who inadvertently put the kibosh on the last published J.D. Salinger book, I'm delighted with the news, via Michael Cieply in The New York Times, that more Salinger books, plural, are on the way:
One collection, to be called “The Family Glass,” would add five new stories to an assembly of previously published stories about the fictional Glass family, which figured in Mr. Salinger’s “Franny and Zooey” and elsewhere, according to the claims, which surfaced in interviews and previews of the documentary and book last week.
Another would include a retooled version of a publicly known but unpublished tale, “The Last and Best of the Peter Pans,” which is to be collected with new stories and existing work about the fictional Caulfields, including “Catcher in the Rye.” The new works are said to include a story-filled “manual” of the Vedanta religious philosophy, with which Mr. Salinger was deeply involved; a novel set during World War II and based on his first marriage; and a novella modeled on his own war experiences.
Not sure which excites me more: the five new Glass family stories (since “Hapworth” was hardly “Franny” or “Bananafish”), the novel set during World War II, or the WWII-era novella.
Cieply gathered the news from the new Shane Salerno documentary, as well as its accompanying book, both entitled “Salinger.”
The Salinger family, meanwhile, is still not talking.
The downside of all of this? The companion book, which comes out Sept. 3, was co-written by David Shields, whose “Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season,” I skewered almost 15 years ago. How does that guy keep getting work? And awards?
Oh right. The world.
This Salinger tidbit via Cieply is equally fascinating—if creepy:
Another relationship described in the book and film will provide plenty of intrigue to Salingerologists: after the war, Mr. Salinger met a 14-year-old girl, Jean Miller, at a beach resort in Florida. For years, they exchanged letters, spent time together in New York and eventually had a brief physical relationship. (She said, in an interview in the film and book, that Mr. Salinger dumped her the day after their first sexual encounter.) Ms. Miller said in the book that Mr. Salinger once saw her stifle a yawn while talking to an older woman and borrowed the gesture for one of his short stories, “For Esmé — With Love and Squalor.”
“He told me he could not have written ‘Esmé’ had he not met me,” Ms. Miller said in an interview in the book.
The doc opens Sept. 6.
“If you really want to hear about it...”
The Goddamn Movies
Here's the cast list for the upcoming Shane Salerno documentary, “Salinger,” set for a Sept. 6, 2013 release. See if you notice anything about it.
- Philip Seymour Hoffman
- Edward Norton
- John Cusack
- Martin Sheen
- Tom Wolfe
- Gore Vidal
And the rest of cast listed alphabetically:
- Judd Apatow
- Danny DeVito
- Robert Towne
- David Milch
- Stephen Adly Guirgis
- John Guare
- E.L. Doctorow
- A. Scott Berg
- Elizabeth Frank
Right, a lot of actors. As talking heads? Talking about Salinger? We get a few writers, certainly (Vidal, Wolfe, Towne, Doctorow, Berg, Guigis), but where are the non-actor readers? Particularly for a documentary about a writer who famously refused to sell his stuff to Hollywood? Whose most famous character talks disparagingly of the movies? Here's the end of the first paragraph of “The Catcher in the Rye”:
If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me.
Here's what the L.A. Times is saying about it:
Reps for the film said that “Salinger” will feature well over 100 interviews with the author’s inner circle about his life and career, as well as include talks with entertainment personalities such as David Milch and Philip Seymour Hoffman about the influence Salinger had on their work. In a statement, Harvey Weinstein called the movie “a haunting piece of documentary filmmaking.”
The goddamn movies.
Gopnik on Salinger
If you didn't read Adam Gopnik's postscript on J.D. Salinger in The New Yorker a few weeks, back, do so now. I know how difficult it is to write about Salinger's writing, and Gopnik gets to the heart of what made him unique and necessary. Some excerpts:
- “...his death throws us back from the myth to the magical world of his writing as it really is, with its matchless comedy, its ear for American speech, its contagious ardor and incomparable charm.”
- “...it was Salinger’s readiness to be touched, and to be touching, his hypersensitivity to the smallest sounds and graces of life, which still startles.”
- “He was a humorist with a heart before he was a mystic with a vision...”
J.D. Quote of the Day
“A community of seriously hip observers is a scary and depressing thing. It takes me at least an hour to warm up when I sit down to work. ... Just taking off my own disguises takes an hour or more.”
—J.D. Salinger, in a letter to Lillian Ross, and quoted in The New Yorker, Feb. 8, 2010
Lancelot Links (RIP JD edition)
- My sister forwarded this Washington Post article on the unintentioned heartbreak we caused the publisher of Orchises Press, Roger Lathbury, who was all set to publish J.D. Salinger's “Hapworth 16, 1924” in January 1997 when I discovered it on amazon.com in October 1996, wrote about it briefly for a Seattle Times publication, then told my sister, who wrote about it, more prominently, for The Washington, D.C. Business Journal. Her article was picked up by The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, etc., and the ensuing publicity caused Salinger to withdraw permission to publish. I wrote about my experience in the matter here. The Wikipedia version is here. My apologies to Mr. Lathbury—and to myself, since I would have loved reading “Hapworth” in book form, no matter what I ultimately thought of it. According to the article, it took Salinger eight years to agree to let Lathbury publish “Hapworth.” If it had taken him six or seven, the book probably would've happened. Unfortunately, by the time he said yes we were in the dawn of the Internet age. And there are no secrets in the Internet age.
- Don't miss the Times' “Walking in Holden's footsteps” literary map of Manhattan.
- Here's Le Monde's version of the Salinger obituary.
- And here's my friend Andy's poignant take on the influence of The Catcher in the Rye.
- I also like this New York Times' piece on how “recluse” is in the eye of the beholder.
- I linked to this last week but it's worth linking again: Steven Lomazow's post on the early, uncollected Salinger stories that I wrote about here. The post comes from Lomazow's blog on “the history, importance and joy of magazine collecting.”
- Finally, Charles McGrath did a nice job on Salinger's obituary for The New York Times, although I would've changed the lead to read: “J. D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II, at a time when writers, American or otherwise, were thought to be important, died on Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91.” That's part of the tragedy for Salinger and us. Apparently he couldn't stand all that attention on his writing; but if he'd simply waited a few decades his writing would've received all of the lack of attention he ever wanted.