Sequels are always difficult to pull off. Everyone pits your new effort against your old one, and rarely will your latest come out ahead (The Empire Strikes Back excluded). It’s even harder to succeed when you’re a) not the original creator, and b) a first-time novelist trying to follow up a literary classic.
Such is the case with the upcoming unauthorized sequel to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the dreadfully titled 60 Years Later Coming Through the Rye written by Swedish/American travel writer John David California. The story picks up with main character Holden Caulfield when he is 76 years old and living in a nursing home. According to a report on The Bookseller, the book’s publisher, Windupbird Publishing, describes the elder Caulfield as a:
“bewildered old man who is suddenly and maliciously yanked back onto the page by his creator.” Caulfield comes to his senses and has an overwhelming compulsion to flee. He boards a bus and embarks on a curious journey through the streets of New York and “many poignant memories of his adulthood.”
This Quillblogger decently enjoyed Salinger’s original novel, but wonders if people really want to see an aging hipster reminisce about when he used to be cool. Based on the outrage spreading across the Web today, I’d guess the answer is no. An article in the Guardian calls out California on his audacity:
What I find fascinating is the sheer brass balls of the man. At what point did he decide that he, above all others, was perfectly placed to re-imagine one of the classic characters of 20th-century literature? Even if the thought occurred to you, wouldn’t you give it a wide berth? Wouldn’t any self-respecting author “ published or not “ simply say no? I mean what’s he got lined up next? Ulysses II: A New Day? Lolita Goes to College? The Crying of Lot 50?
Reports say that California decided to write the sequel after becoming “captivated” by Caulfield’s story upon finding an old copy in an abandoned cabin in rural Cambodia. California has not received permission to write this novel from the famously reclusive Salinger, and he comments on his desired reaction from the original author in an interview with the Guardian:
Maybe he will get upset, but I’m hoping he will be pleased. I’m not trying to lure him out of hiding “ maybe he wants his privacy [but] it would be fun for me to hear what he thinks about this, and if he’s pleased with the way I’ve portrayed Holden Caulfield and his future.