Remember books? Those bound collections of pages with writing on them that you can pull out of your bag when both your phone and your external battery run out of juice? Well, up till now actual physical books were the only way to imbibe the works of J.D. Salinger, an author reclusive in life and, as far as digitization goes, in death as well. That’s about to change: On Tuesday, The New York Times reports, those who prefer or only read their literature on Kindles or their smartphones will finally be able to see if The Catcher in the Rye lives up to the hype, or if it’s just kind of phony.
Salinger died in 2010, a mere three years after Amazon first released the Kindle, and six years after the Sony Libre, which you may not even remember, bowed. The hold-up can partly be blamed on Matt Salinger, his son, who you may also recall starred in the cheapo 1990 movie version of Captain America. Salinger the Younger has held out selling digital copies of his late father’s works, in part because he knew his famously stubborn father, who hated the internet, wouldn’t have liked his short stories and novels being read on a crummy computer screen.
Still, Matt Salinger was reluctant. “I hear his voice really clearly in my head, and there’s no doubt in my mind about 96 percent of the decisions I have to make, because I know what he would have wanted,” he told the Times. “Things like e-books and audiobooks are tough, because he clearly didn’t want them.”
And yet Salinger’s son has changed his mind, perhaps sensing that the young people who would get the most out of The Catcher in the Rye — as well as Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction, plus a clutch of never-released stories promised to be made available later — are young and may have never held an actual book in their literal hands.
Well, they’re in luck: On Tuesday those who never want to clutter their homes with books — despite John Waters’ famous advice to never sleep with someone who owns none of them — can scroll through one of literature’s most idiosyncratic voices. Perhaps they’ll even belatedly learn a thing or two from Rye hero Holden Caulfield about the value of sarcasm, pessimism, and bottom-shelf curse words that were only scandalous in 1951.
(Via The New York Times)