Having turned 90 in January, J.D. Salinger is in the news, suing an author who calls himself J.D. California to prevent him publishing a sequel to The Catcher in the Rye called ’60 Years Later: Coming Through The Rye’.
The novel already appears for pre-sale on Amazon. The publisher is of dubious reputation, and the buzz around the book itself is not positive. If anyone was going to try to pull this off, it would have to be brilliant. As the title suggests, this sequel starts with Holden at 76, apparently losing his marbles and revisiting New York City.
In 2004 on my old blog (which was lost forever when the modblog servers went down permanently back in 2006) I wrote a creative post about a sequel to the The Catcher in the Rye called Holden Rides Again. In my post, I had obtained the manuscript from a girl who was romantically linked with J.D. Salinger’s son, Matty (star of an infamously bad telemovie version of Captain America – I’m not joking, this much is true). I gave a plot outline for the manuscript and was pleased when one person left a comment saying they couldn’t wait for it to be published for real.
J.D. Salinger has said that Holden exists only in the covers of the book; that there’s no more to tell. But for so many fans, myself included, that’s not true. I would love for him to have come alive for longer, to have read more of his adventures, to have found out how such a distraught youth might live the rest of his life.
In The Library of Babel, my new novel, the new draft actually starts with Tom finding a manuscript copy of J.D. Salinger’s sequel to Catcher in the Rye in the rare book room of the library. It’s a move that I’m in two minds about; I don’t want to dwell forever in the shadow of Catcher (characters reference it in my first novel; and originally in my second, one of the characters was named after Jane Gallagher, but this is gone now). But the point was something else – the sequel is about what happens when the angsty sixteen year old has to grow up. What comes next? What comes after deciding everyone’s a phony?
I wanted to situate my novel as an exploration of these themes. I have consciously left behind themes of adolescence and want to write about the mid to late twenties, and the challenges of living at peace with the world, while still trying to be authentic.
I may have to rethink using the sequel to Catcher in the Rye at all. In case it gets edited out, and in light of J.D. California’s hype, here’s my sequel to Catcher in the Rye, in the form of chapter four of the Library of Babel:
Have a read and then vote in the poll, just like reality TV: