I found this interesting, but then again I am a nut for book culture's strange edge, apparently J.D. Salinger is suing to stop publication of a Catcher In the Rye sequel. Unauthorized Catcher In the Rye sequel if that was not clear. The new book, by the presumed pseudonymous "J.D. California", a fan of the original who claims it helped him through a roughspot, is called 60 Years Later: Coming through the Rye. The new publishers claim it is not a sequel, per se, but something of an alternate retelling, in which Holden Caulfield is an older man escaping a nursing home. The article gives quotes about why publishing the book is and is not a good idea.
What to do in such a case? I do not know. I overall kind of despise pastiches. I have read some good ones, but they always read like a) fanfiction, b) a cheap attempt to cash in on a franchise, or c) all of the above. From what I am hearing, this 60 Years Later has all the makings of a big "C". And, well, one of the golden rules of pastiche is you don't do it while the original writer is alive, or you get some sort of permission, or you do it for free and publish it to a usenet group. J.D. Salinger, being a living man, really should have been contacted about this. He would have said "no", but taking advantage of someone's recluse status to sneak one by (or attempting to draw him out), comes across as slimeballish. "California", if he really wrote the book out of adoration, has dozens of "free giveaway" channels he could have used and probably not incited the ire of Salinger. Hell, "California" could have simply made a anagolous book. Here's this one: call it 60 Years Later and have it involve a "Mr. D" who escapes a nursing home. If it is a different character at a different time in a different universe, calling it Holden Caulfield is fishing for either controversy or curiosity. I guess that was the point, and the other big issue. No one will ever think that J.D. Salinger had anything to do with this, no one would actually liked Catcher in the Rye, and so the only way this book will hurt Catcher is those people who did not like the original, and idiots in the news and such who declare it a sequel or maybe a Wikipedia article that tries to incorporate it. All-in-all, if Salinger let this one go, it would do little to impact his original, highly influential novel. However, why does someone deserve to make money riding Salinger's coat-tails with no concept of contacting the original creator, for better or worse?
As some of you know, I am fairly "copyleft", but I would never write a derivative work without doing my best to contact someone and then respecting their wishes. If I write something and put on my website and it borrow something, but I give it away for free and make it known that I am just kidding around, I am not going out of my way; but if I were to try to publish it, or make it somewhat presentable, or what have you, I am going to play friendly with the creator. My personal belief is that copyright should expire something like ten years after author's death, with a chance for renewal if it stays in reprint (up to 20 or 30 years). Copyright is about monetary exchange. I personally think there is also a degree of respect required. If you love a novel so much, don't try and cash in on it. Try and promote it.
Bonus, the CNN article has more than one statement about the quality of the other books on the websites, talking about dirty joke books and books for men. What is that, an ad websitenem attack?
Si Vales, Valeo
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Written by Doug Bolden
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