After receiving incredible success with The Catcher in the Rye in 1951 – still required reading for any high school English curriculum – and publishing three other books, including Nine Stories and Franny and Zooey, author J.D. Salinger’s publishing career came to a screeching halt in the mid-60’s. “Hapworth 16, 1924,” a short story published in The New Yorker in 1965, was the last work the author published in his lifetime. Salinger died in 2010, leaving questions as to what would happen to any remaining unpublished work – if there was any remaining work at all.
But according to his son Matt Salinger, the author never stopped writing – and generated “a lot of material” over the years, he told The Guardian recently in an exclusive interview.
“All of what he wrote will at some point be shared,” Matt Salinger said, but confirmed that the process will take a good amount of time. “This was somebody who was writing for 50 years without publishing, so that’s a lot of material. So there’s not a reluctance or a protectiveness: when it’s ready, we’re going to share it,” he confirmed.
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Matt Salinger shares custody of the literary estate with Salinger’s widow, Colleen O’Neill. The two are hard at work gathering the material for publication, which they hope will be ready for release within a decade. “Your readers should know that we’re going as fast as we freaking can,” Salinger’s son said. “I feel the pressure to get this done, more than he did.” Work on compiling the estate began in 2011, a year after the author’s death.
Don’t expect to see a Catcher sequel, however: Matt Salinger says rumors of any new work starring Holden Caulfield is “total trash.” In fact, the writing we do see may be very different than the Salinger many of us grew up reading. “It becomes clear that he was after different game,” he said of his father’s later work.
It “will definitely disappoint people that he wouldn’t care about, but for real readers … I think it will be tremendously well received by those people and they will be affected in the way every reader hopes to be affected when they open a book. Not changed, necessarily, but something rubs off that can lead to change,” Matt Salinger said.
Inspired by Salinger?
We’ve recently interviewed three people who have penned creative works inspired by the late author:
- James Sadwith, who wrote and directed the film Coming Through the Rye, which is based on his own experiences as a teenager tracking down and visiting the reclusive author J.D. Salinger,
- David Shields, who co-authored Salinger, a biography of the writer J.D. Salinger, which took 10 years to complete,
- and Danny Strong, writer and director of Rebel in the Rye, a film about the life of novelist J.D. Salinger that stars Nicholas Holt and Kevin Spacey.