J.D. Salinger would hate this.
He would hate that there’s a soon-to-be-released book called “Salinger” that’s positively thick with previously unreleased photos, interviews and correspondence designed to fling open the windows on, arguably, the most famous American recluse in history. He would hate that the release on Tuesday of this more-than-600-page oral biography of the author of “The Catcher in the Rye” will come just three days before its companion documentary, also called “Salinger,” hits theaters. And, presumably, he really, really wouldn’t care for this article, which will unearth a few of the illuminating nuggets nestled within that forthcoming portrait of the scribe who died in 2010, leaving behind a legacy of celebrated prose and an enigmatic persona that is, apparently, immortal.
Among the Salinger-obsessed, this much-hyped book from David Shields and Shane Salerno, who also directed the documentary, is already being treated like the literary equivalent of the Pentagon Papers. It’s yielded the following major piece of news, first reported in the New York Times and since circulated pretty much everywhere: that five new books by Salinger — including fresh stories about the members of the Glass family, featured in “Franny and Zooey,” as well as the Caulfields of “Catcher” fame — apparently will be released beginning in 2015. The new additions to the Salinger library will also include what “Salinger” calls a “manual” of Vedanta, the Hindu philosophy Salinger followed during the second half of his life, as well as a novel and a novella inspired by his experiences as a member of the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps in World War II. This is certainly the biggest bombshell in “Salinger,” one that seems to confirm that the notoriously moody wordsmith continued to write steadily after the last published short story of his lifetime ran in a 1965 issue of the New Yorker. But that’s not the only revelation.