In the book and documentary film, Salinger, David Shields and Shane Salerno posit that five new books by J. D. Salinger will be published before the year 2021. To me this is seeming less and less likely to happen.
However, in the spirit of fun and child-like anticipation, I’m ranking these possible new Salinger books by how much I want to read them.
5. A Story-Manual of Vedanta Religious Philosophy
Although J. D. Salinger and I don’t share the same religious views, I do find his religious writings and philosophy intriguing, as in his stories “Teddy” and “De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period” and in the longer piece “Seymour: An Introduction”.
Of course, you don’t have to agree with someone to learn something. I know close to nothing about the Vedanta Religious Philosophy, so I’m sure to gain new knowledge and understanding from this book. I like learning in general and as I get older, I’ve been more intrigued by religious comparisons (the idea that all religions are the same or that all religions lead to the same place is a sad joke). Obviously, I enjoy Salinger’s story telling ability, so even though this isn’t on the top of my most anticipated list, I’m sure I’d enjoy reading it.
4. Caulfield Family Compendium
The Catcher in the Rye is one of my all-time favorite novels. Sheilds and Salerno say that Salinger tidied up his other Caulfield stories (and maybe wrote some more?) and compiled them with Catcher into one volume.
If you don’t know about the other ‘Caulfield’ stories, you can check a summary out here, on the best Salinger in the world.
Well, the idea of a huge volume of Caulfield stories sounds awesome.
So why isn’t this higher on my list?
I’ve read Catcher so much that I feel, I don’t necessarily need to know more about the Caulfield family.
Of course, I would read it. And if there was a full story about Allie, his death, and the baseball mitt, I’d move this up higher on the list. Truth is, as much as I love Catcher, the other possible Salinger books have me even more excited than this Caulfield one.
3. Glass Family Compendium
Most Salinger readers are familiar with the Glass family stories, starting with “A Perfect Day for Banafish” and seemingly ending with “Hapworth 16, 1924”. This possible book would collect all the Glass stories, novellas, and whatever else there might be into one big volume.
Over the years, I’ve really grown attached to these stories. So much so, that I’d argue that Franny and Zooey is Salinger’s best book. I also think that “Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters” is Salinger’s best written short story.
So, if there are any new Glass stories being added to the mix, I definitely wouldn’t want to miss them.
2. A WWII Love Story based on Salinger’s Relationship with his First Wife
I learned a little about Salinger’s first wife from the biographies I’ve read and the already mentioned documentary: Salinger. It’s an intriguing story: Salinger is a counter-intelligence officer, his wife turns out to have Nazi-ties, it affects him the rest of his life.
I’ve always found WWII to be fascinating and a huge turning point in history (for good and bad). As for the role Salinger had in it, there’s so little known at this point that I just got to know more.
Which brings me to number one on the list.
1. Novel Told Through Counter-Intelligence Diary Entries.
This is heavily tied to number two on the list.
I’m also curious how much #1 and #2 are tied to the story “For Esmé—with Love and Squalor”.
An epistolary novel is rare these days, so I’d love to read one, especially if it’s based on some WWII intrigue and Salinger’s war experience.
The Caulfield and Glass Compendiums are fine-tuning Salinger’s work that we already know. The World War Two stuff is breaking new ground for Salinger, which is why I’m most excited about those.
Will we actually see these books? It seems if we do, it’ll be far in the future. I hope I’ll still be alive to read them.
I hope I’m wrong, though. I hope it’s soon.
If we do get them, will they be understood? Probably not. I still read an article now and then of someone not understanding The Catcher in the Rye—it’s probably one of the reasons Salinger withdrew from the public and why he stopped publishing.
Now that he’s passed away and doesn’t have to see how all the phonies react to his work, I hope that means that I, at least, (and his other true fans) get to read what he had been writing all that time in New Hampshire.
MORE OF MY SALINGER ARTICLES: