Msnowe's Blog

Holden Down the Fort.

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on June 8, 2009
Should we listen to the old troll? Should we even care?

Should we listen to the old troll? Should we even care?

The only thing sexier than reading a story is not being allowed to read a story.

Slate ran an article today pondering the possibility of the last 45 years of written work that J.D. Salinger may or may not possess. The author goes on to explain why anything Salinger may have written in the past half-century is worth fighting tooth and nail (and whatever other odd tools or bones might be needed) to save it. He posits his argument around the comparison of Nabokov’s son ignoring his father’s post-humorous wishes and potentially ignoring Salinger’s humorous (or if it comes to it, post-humorous) ones. Nabokov’s son, Dmitri, is publishing a draft of his father’s that was only written on index cards. [Of course, the author notes that even Lolita wouldn’t have seen the light of day if Nabokov’s wife hadn’t saved it from the fire, but that’s a different circumstance. ]

The author has clearly developed a hard-on just thinking about the possibilities that may or may not lie dormant somewhere in Salinger’s reclusive, New Hampshire basement. To be fair, Catcher in the Rye was decent and helped define an important moment in American culture. But let’s face it, the guy hasn’t published since 1965. He came out with one highly-acclaimed novel and then a few other novellas and short stories. We can speculate all we want–and that’s why this article is so fun–because it’s all based on some possible for-instance, and then builds and builds and builds itself into a frenzy. Does it take this kind of legs-crossed-will-he-won’t-he-anticipation to get anyone excited about a book anymore?

Many artists’ stories are filled with that final hour, death row reprieve, and some of the best literature in the canon was saved/discovered in miraculous ways. It’s a wonder that we even got our hands and eyes on most of it (or at least that’s part of the mythical nature of art). But most of the time these pieces were saved due to dumb luck–and it’s worked out fairly well for us so far with the lack of planning. You can’t miss what you never had, except this Slate writer is telling us we should … and maybe he’s right. But instead of getting all blue-balled for whatever may or may not exist in some attic of the “live free or die” state, why not freely analyze some of the newer fiction that’s all around us?