Sunday, June 17, 2007

Spend the Day With Salinger

If you're feeling tired of all those lousy phonies, maybe you should take a little time out with J. D. Salinger. 

We've all heard the speculation that the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye has stacks and stacks of short stories and novels stashed away in some vault, and maybe when he dies we'll finally get to see them. And though you feel bad, wanting the old kook to die, you can't help but be a little impatient. 

Because Salinger is one of those authors that you can get rabid about: after Catcher you devour Nine Stories and then all the Glass family stories, and then you find yourself thinking "is that it?" He's sort of the literary equivalent of Neutral Milk Hotel in that way. "What do you mean there aren't anymore albums?"

Well now, just like the hours you've spent on Limewire, downloading every scratchy, 45 second live track anyone ever got on their mini disc recorder at a Neutral Milk Hotel show, you actually can get your hands on just a little more Salinger without wishing death on the poor guy. 

The uncollected writings of J.D. can now be read on freeweb. It includes what it calls the "under-published" stories, magazine publications from 1940 - 1948. It also has the illusive Hapworth 16, 1924, a continuation of the Glass family stories in the form of a letter home from the young Seymour Glass while he's away at summer camp. You may remember in 2000, when Salinger was planning to publish it. You could even sign up in advance to buy a copy on Amazon. But Salinger backed out at the last minute. 
Make sure to check out "Slight Rebellion off Madison", which is an early short story that later became one of the middle chapters of Catcher in the Rye, "I'm Crazy", which was later to become the beginning of Catcher . And in "The Last Day of the Last Furlough", Holden's brother D.B. (at this point named Vincent) reveals some interesting information about Holden after the time period of Catcher. 

So put on your hunting caps, grab your swiss cheese sandwiches, and turn off That's a Wise Child, and get reading!

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