I read books, I write about books, I would probably marry a book if I could find one who liked me enough. Three words to describe me mature, irresponsible, contradictory, unreliable...oh...that's four...
News that the Salinger estate plans to publish up to five new books of stories by the author leaves me feeling conflicted.
There's no doubt that Catcher in the Rye deserves every bit of the praise it gets. For many of us, reading that book forms a turning point in our careers as book lovers. That's the moment when we understand how completely an author can capture the experience of another human being and allow us, the reader to share it with him. Salinger wasn't the only writer to capture the agonies of adolescence - Plath did it brilliantly in The Bell Jar - but Salinger's genius is to make Holden - his clumsy, rebellious teen - not only accurate, but endearing.
So why don't I want more of Salinger's work? Because the rest of what he produced, only a tiny fraction of which made it into print, isn't very good. Salinger is one of a small number of writers who only had one story to tell. He lived the rest of his life comfortably off the proceeds, trying and failing to repeat the trick. I may be wrong, but my feeling is that publishing material even Salinger himself wasn't happy with isn't going to enhance his reputation, it's going to tarnish it.