The Catcher in the Rye author, who died in 2010, left instructions to publish his unseen works, including new stories featuring his most famous character Holden Caulfield.
J. D. Salinger was always a guarded artist. He kept a very small inner circle of only “seven or eight people,” says his son Matthew, outside of which nobody could have known that the author continued to write through the years, let alone that he planned to release any more of his works.
But a new documentary and accompanying book, both simply titled “Salinger,” are said to reveal both Salinger’s instructions to publish a handful of never before seen stories and details of the elusive writer’s private life. Of the latter, the documentary’s director Shane Salerno says he and writer David Shields have uncovered new details about Salinger’s mysterious first wife–Sylvia Welter, a suspected Gestapo informant–as well as the young Jean Miller (only fourteen when they met) with whom he shared a long correspondence followed by a brief relationship.
For me, those sordid details Salerno and Shields boast of leave a bad taste in my mouth. The delivery, against the wishes of Salinger’s family and close friends, gives them all the credibility and dignity of a TMZ scoop. However, the duo insist that their sources regarding the author’s plans to publish are reliable, being “independent and separate” of one another.
In yet more news of Shakespearean retellings, Random House is now set to publish a series of the Bard’s plays rewritten as prose. The RH imprint Hogarth has commissioned authors Anne Tyler and Jeanette Winterson as the first to release novels in the forthcoming “Hogarth Shakespeare Project.” The two will be rewriting The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter’s Tale respectively. These are set for release in 2016 (alas, still far away), exactly 400 years after the Bard’s death.
Hogarth explains that these new releases are intended to “be true to the spirit of the original dramas and their popular appeal, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to reinvent these seminal works of English literature.” And from the sounds of it, the writers can’t wait to get their hands on these texts…
Tyler, who has previously won the Pulitzer prize for her novel Breathing Lessons, says, “I don’t know which I’m looking forward to more: ‘Delving into the mysteries of shrewish Kate or finding out what all the other writers do with their Shakespeare characters.’”
Her counterpart, meanwhile, feels a special draw to The Winter’s Tale: “All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around. I have worked with The Winter’s Tale in many disguises for many years. This is a brilliant opportunity to work with it in its own right.” Winterston has written both novels and BAFTA award winning scripts.
Excitement about a new imagining of Shakespeare’s works aside, what are your thoughts on how the new prose form will change the way we think of Shakespeare’s tales? Will the inevitable loss of his poetic language leave readers wanting? Or will we find a fresh new way to appreciate these stories?
If you were to rewrite one of Shakespeare’s works in this way, what would you choose and where would you take it?
These days the world of independent bookstores (and giant chains of bookstores) just has to get more and more eye catching to compete with readers’ shrunken attention spans. What to do? Hire the entire cast of Mad Men and come up with one of these genius spots, to start:
1. Mint Vinetu, Vilnius, 2011.
2. Whitcoullis, New Zealand, 2011. Amazingly the poster includes all the words to A Clockwork Orange. (Because it’s just the kind of novel you want to read in really tiny script…)
3. L’Echange, Montreal, 2007. See another here. An ingenious marketing strategy for a popular secondhand book store.
Here’s a fun game for your Friday: try to guess the titles of the famous books behind these ten phantom covers. Scroll down or click-through for the answers.
And have a great weekend, wherever you are!
Author Maureen Johnson has had enough of gendered book covers. Just what is she talking about? Well, she’s talking about books that look like this:
And yes, that is the same book in each picture. The first is what ended up in print, while the second imagines how the cover might have looked had the book written been by a man. Why the difference? Johnson gives a little insight into the sometimes unfair world of book publishing and marketing:
The simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherentl different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simple more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow and the feeling of smooth jazz blowing off of it.