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Reclusive celebrities – and books shut away

January Magazine draws our attention to Time Magazine’s “Top Ten List of Reclusive Celebrities”. They’re not all authors, but half of them are, number one (of course) J. D. Salinger. He stopped giving interviews in 1980, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever say anything in public again – “to the creator of Holden Caulfield, we are all a bunch of phonies.”

The other “reclusive” authors are Harper Lee (“To Kill a Mockingbird”), Emily Dickinson (poetry – I’ll have to write a separate blog post on her some time), Thomas Pynchon (“The Crying of Lot 49″, “Gravity’s Rainbow”, “Mason and Dixon” and more), and Marcel Proust (“À la recherche du temps perdu”, in English: “In Search of Lost Time”).
Some of the rest seem to have been needed to fill the “Ten” (Howard Hughes and Greta Garbo seem OK to me, but what about Dave Chappelle and Syd Barrett? As important as Pynchon? I wonder. And on second thoughts – even Hughes and Garbo seem a bit out of place here. Maybe you shouldn’t compare apples to pears. [Which certainly isn't a common idiom in English, is it? Any suggestions of a better one? {And that's as far as a parenthetical style should go, isn't it.}]).

It had been a Salinger-rich month for January Magazine anyway. There was this rumour about a sequel to “Catcher in the Rye”, which JM first half supported and then refuted (“Maybe Salinger *Didn’t* Write the Sequel”).[1]
The “sequel” completely unrelated novel by author J. D. California, which will be published by Swedish publisher Nicotext, is called “Sixty Years Later: Coming Through the Rye”, and this is (part of) what the publisher has to say about its content:

A 76-year-old man wakes up in a nursing home in upstate New York. This seemingly normal day brings with it an unnerving compulsion to flee his present situation and embark on a curious journey through the streets of New York City. Powerless to resist these strange new urges, Holden Caulfield, like a decrepit marionette, finds himself in the midst of bizarre and occasionally depraved escapades. Is senility finally closing in or is some higher power controlling the chaos? 60 years after his debut as the great American anti-hero, Holden Caulfield is yanked back onto the page without a goddamn clue why.

Well, although the novel, scheduled for publication in September, is dedicated to Salinger, the author of the real Holden Caulfield is not amused. He filed a lawsuit against the California publication – obviously to the great disappointment of freelance author J. D. California, who is quoted as saying:

“The stories are so different that I don’t think you can argue this is a sequel,” Mr California said. “This is such an American response. It’s just words. I have written about Mr C, a 76-year-old man. Salinger wrote a book about a a 16-year-boy named Holden Caulfield. It’s a story about growing old and old age and finding yourself in the world.”

So “Sixty Years Later” may never see the light of day, if J. D. Salinger prevails. A funny fate for a book, especially considering that “The Catcher in the Rye” has been on the “Banned Books” lists of several US states – a fate it shares with Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon”, by the way. Morrison’s book was banned at a Michigan high school:

A high school English teacher in Shelby has been ordered to remove a book by a Pulitzer- and Nobel-award-winning author from her curriculum after members of the community objected to its profanity, sexual references and violence.

There’s more on this here (January Magazine, again).

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[1] Related article in the Guardian:
Catcher in the Rye sequel published, but not by Salinger

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