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J.D. Salinger's unpublished work: What now?
Some say the reclusive "Catcher in the Rye" author left behind up to 15 unpublished novels. Will we ever get to read them?
 
Will Salinger's millions of fans ever be able to read his unpublished novels?
Will Salinger's millions of fans ever be able to read his unpublished novels?
Corbis

Hours after J.D. Salinger's death was announced, rumors were already swirling that the literary icon had penned up to 15 unpublished novels. Though the reclusive and increasingly eccentric genius behind 1951's "Catcher in the Rye" had not published new material since 1965, Salinger told The New York Times in 1974: "I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure." Can Salinger fans look forward to a library of newly discovered works — and, if so, will they be any good?

There's plenty of evidence that other novels exist:
You don't have to look far for "anecdotal evidence," says Jack Bremer in the First Post. A former lover said in a memoir that Salinger "wrote daily" and had "stashed away" at least two novels. His daughter Margaret even claimed he had "filed all his writing very precisely" to be published in the event of his death. His estate's "silence" is not likely to last long "if the million of fans of 'Catcher in the Rye' have anything to do with it."
"JD Salinger's death: could there be a new book at last?"


But there's no evidence new Salinger novels would be readable:
There's "probably a lot" of writing locked away somewhere in Salinger's remote hideaway, says novelist Jay McInerney, quoted in the Associated Press. But the last thing he published, the "insane" 1965 short story, "Hapworth 16, 1924," was a "virtually shapeless and formless" work of fiction. It was "not terribly satisfying" — and it's likely more work will be "in that vein."
"JD Salinger Dead: 'Catcher in the Rye' author dies at 91"

New work can only add to his reputation:
While publishing posthumous work that "isn't very good" can sometimes "damage" our memory of the author, writes Oliver Marre at the Daily Telegraph, it's unlikely that will be the case here. Salinger's reputation was "so peculiar anyway" that "anything else" can only enlarge it. A bigger worry: That the "truly terrible" sequel to "Catcher" penned by another author will "see the light of day" now that Salinger can "litigate no more."
"Now he's dead, JD Salinger can't sue any more. Wait for the avalanche"

 

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