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Readers salivate over Salinger’s unpublished manuscripts

J.D. Salinger has been dead a scant five days, but already people are clamouring for his unpublished work to be made available. In a 1974 interview (one of the few the famously reclusive author ever gave), Salinger said, Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure. And the prospect that the author was writing “ and not publishing “ has fans all a-twitter at the notion that there may be new work forthcoming once the vaults are thrown open.

Writing on the National Post‘s Afterword blog, novelist Andrew Kaufman suggests (with tongue firmly in cheek) that he and a group of “co-conspirators” are going to descend on New Hampshire for the purpose of “stealing J.D. Salinger’s filing cabinet.”

We just can’t wait any longer. Mr. Salinger may have only [just] passed on … but it’s been 16,296 days since he’s published anything. We’ve received no new family dramas from the Glasses, nothing about Holden dropping out of college or backpacking through India, not even a chuckle from the Laughing Man. But Salinger, so the legend goes, turned his back not on writing but publishing. Joyce Maynard who lived with Salinger after his self-imposed literary exile claims he’s completed at least two full novels. Margaret Salinger, his sister, stated that Salinger kept a detailed filing system, one that’s even colour coded to let future editors know what to publish and how to publish it.

In a more serious vein, entertainment lawyer Michael Levine tells the Toronto Star that Salinger’s unpublished work represents a potential “gold mine”:

“The interest and enthusiasm in the academic community and in the trade community remains profound. Sixty-five million copies of The Catcher in the Rye have sold. Whatever the quality of the subsequent manuscripts, there would be interest,” Levine said.

All of which may be true, but Quillblog would like to caution Salinger’s many fans about the dangers of being overly enthusiastic. Posthumously published work by renowned authors is not always everything it’s cracked up to be.