Author J.D. Salinger hid away for decades in plain sight in Cornish, N.H., a feeding town for the high school where I taught English in Vermont for 25 years.
As such, I had access to all kinds of folklore and harmless gossip about the reclusive writer for years.
One of my students was his next-door neighbor and used to go over to his house every night and watch "Jeopardy!" with him, a game show which apparently Saliinger "loved."
She told me that on Halloween, Salinger would not give out candy. Instead he handed out pencils. This must have been a huge disappointment to sugarized kids, but if their parents had an ounce of literary sense, they would have realized their child had just been given the equivalent of Excaliber by King Arthur himself.
A pencil from Salinger! Imagine what that would bring on "Antiques Roadshow." Or better, imagine how it might energize a fledgling writer, perhaps King Arthur's intent?
Rumor had it that Salinger's second wife (who was half his age) volunteered in our school for years, but I was too polite to try to find out, although other teachers confirmed it. Privacy is privacy, after all.
One of my students was running a cash register at Price Chopper (or a similar grocery store five minutes from my school) in West Lebanon, N.H. one day and noticed that the white-haired man behind the middle-aged woman at the register looked just like J.D. Salinger.
When the woman handed her a credit card with the last name Salinger, my student flashed the woman a look, and the woman flashed her a look back which said, "That's him, yes, but don't say anything."
For years, one of my colleagues and his wife would attend local church suppers. J.D. Salinger loved church suppers and was always first in line at them. My colleague and his wife would often eat with him but learned from observation that he would get up and leave if anyone approached him about his identity as a writer. He wanted to be "just Jerry," not J.D. Salinger.
In later years, after infirmity set in, Jerry would still be first in line at church suppers, but he would stand there using a ski pole as a cane to steady himself. That's snow country class.
I know of one exception to this rule of public anonymity: Another one of my colleagues was the son of one of the owner's of Lou's, a famous Dartmouth breakfast joint in Hanover, where Salinger (and Robert Frost!) ate regularly.
One day, he asked Jerry if he would sign a copy of "The Catcher in the Rye" for his son (now my colleague), and Jerry complied. That signature on "Catcher" today is worth $10,000, according to a recent estimate.
Another one of my students had an aunt who bought the home owned by J. D. Salinger in his first marriage. The aunt describes a tunnel between the house and the garage which Jerry had built "to avoid journalists" and paparazzi. At one point in his career, a national magazine sent a photographer to stake him out until he got Salinger's photo. After three days, he got it, not at his tunnel-equipped home, but at the Windsor post office.
Another one of my colleagues has a brother who is a local mechanic and repaired "Jerry's" car for years. He too asserts it was "just Jerry."
Perhaps most fascinating, for me, is the story of a local N.H. volunteer firefighter, a story which adds credence to the report that, beginning in 2015, five more Salinger manuscripts will be published by the estate of "just Jerry."
The fireman recounts that one day, his department was called to put out a fire at the Salingers' Cornish home. The fire was in the basement where Salinger had his study and at one end of the study was a wall safe.
Salinger was so grateful that the fire had been extinguished without destroying his study that the next day he appeared at the volunteer fire company and handed them "a check for $18,000," said the firefighter.
The firefighter looked at me and said, "There was something in that safe he was very grateful we saved." And then he added, in case I didn't get it, "Manuscripts."
What his authority was for such a conjecture, I know not.
But I trust local gossip. Especially when it's just about Jerry.
Paul Keane, M.A.,M.Div.,M.Ed, is a Monitor contributor and blogs at The Anti-Yale.
The novel came to the attention of the board after the parent of a female eleventh-grader at Randleman High School wrote a critique that spanned 12 pages. According to the Courier-Tribune of Asheboro, N.C., the parent, Kimiyutta Parson, objected to language in the text and sexual content. Parson wrote in her complaint, “The narrator writes in the first person, emphasizing his individual experiences and his feelings about the events portrayed in his life. This novel is not so innocent; instead, this book is filthier, too much for teenagers. You must respect all religions and point of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children to read, without their knowledge. This book is freely in your library for them to read.”
The school board then voted five to two to ban the book from libraries within the school system. Each member was given a copy of the novel to peruse and at the beginning of the meeting, board chair Tommy McDonald inquired if everyone had read it.
“It was a hard read,” McDonald said, according to the Courier-Tribune.
According to the Courier-Tribune, school board member Gary Mason said, “I didn’t find any literary value” and said he also considered the language inappropriate.
“Invisible” was one of three novels soon-to-be juniors could choose to read over the summer before the beginning of their eleventh-grade school year, with honors students required to read two of the titles. The two other candidates were “Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin and “Passing” by Nella Larsen.
“Invisible” centers on an unnamed narrator, an African-American man, and his experiences with racism in America and the book was given the 1953 National Book Award. According to the American Library Association, the novel was taken off a Wisconsin high school reading list in 1975 and in 1994, parents in the Yakima, Wash. school district objected to the title but it was ultimately kept in the system.
Those behind the prize have announced that not only will American writers be able to receive the Booker next year but any novel that is released in English and is published in the UK could get the prize starting in 2014.
Before now, only writers from the UK, Ireland, or countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations qualified for the Booker.
When rumors swirled last week that the Booker would be open to American writers starting next year, Trewin told the Guardian, “The information which is currently in circulation is incomplete” and said the announcement would come this week.
Booker Prize Foundation chair Jonathan Taylor said in a statement that the trustees originally considered making a separate prize for American writers but that “at the end of the process we were wary of jeopardizing or diluting the existing Man Booker Prize. Instead we agreed that the prize, which for 45 years has been the touchstone for literary fiction written in English of the highest quality, could enhance its prestige and reputation through expansion, rather than by setting up a separate prize... We are embracing the freedom of English in its versatility, in its vigor, in its vitality and in its glory wherever it may be. We are abandoning the constraints of geography and national boundaries.”
In addition, the requirements for how many works can be submitted for consideration by a publisher have also changed. If a publisher has had more titles make the longlist for the Booker recently, it will be able to submit more works. Publishers who have not recently had a work nominated will only be allowed to send in one title, while those with one or two titles that made the longlist within the past five years will be allowed two and so on, with a maximum of publishers who have had five or more titles nominated being allowed to submit four works.
Taylor said this rule “recognizes literary achievement” and that the new requirements were brought on partially by the amount of books judges are usually required to read, which he said “has long been a concern.”
“We are reasonably confident that the new arrangement will be slightly less challenging in terms of reading than the 151 books the judges considered this year,” he said.
To those writers who are worried more entries will mean authors from the UK are less likely to win the Booker, Trewin said, “Increased competition will be an even greater accolade,” according to the Telegraph.
When the possibility of American writers being included in consideration for the Booker was discussed last week, many writers were displeased, with current nominee Jim Crace telling the Independent, “There’s something in there that you would lose if you open it up to American author” and former winner Howard Jacobson telling the Telegraph that such a move would be the “wrong decision.”
The shortlist for this year’s prize was recently released and the winner will be announced on Oct. 15.
“Catcher in the Rye” author J.D. Salinger was all over the headlines recently with the release of the documentary “Salinger,” directed by Shane Salerno, and the book of the same name by David Shields and Salerno.
And now The Weinstein Company, which was behind the film documentary, has announced a biopic about the author is coming soon.
According to the film company, the movie will focus on the time in Salinger’s life between World War II and the publication of “Rye,” which came out in 1951. Salerno will write the screenplay for the movie, which will focus on “the effects war can have on an artist,” The Weinstein Company said in a statement.
In addition to the biopic, more footage will be added to the documentary “Salinger” when it gets a wide release in theaters on Sept. 20.
“This documentary has been an incredible journey and truly epitomizes what it means to be a passion project,” Salerno said in a statement. “I’m beyond excited to share more of the fascinating material we discovered in its new special edition, and look forward to continuing my relationship with Harvey and TWC in developing a narrative film about this brilliant, intriguing man.”
Co-chairman of The Weinstein Company Harvey Weinstein said in a statement, “Shane has created an amazing documentary about one of the most beloved but enigmatic literary figures of our time. The material will make for an incredible live action narrative.”
No news yet on a release date or what actor will take on the role of the writer, but Los Angeles Times staff suggested such candidates for the part as Ryan Gosling, Vincent Kartheiser, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
The documentary “Salinger” currently has a 38 (out of 100) critics score on movie review aggregator site Metacritic, while The Christian Science Monitor reviewer Peter Rainer said it is “by turns fascinating and infuriating… [Salerno] treats Salinger’s life in exposé fashion.”
A previously unpublished story by Ernest Hemingway will be released in the October issue of Harper’s Magazine.
The story, titled “My Life in the Bull Ring with David Ogden Stewart,” is believed to have been written in 1924 and was found in letters of Stewart’s. The text is reportedly based on a bull fight in which Stewart participated.
Apparently Stewart wasn’t impressed by the story at first – according to NPR, he wrote in his autobiography, “When [Hemingway] had sent me a 'funny' piece about myself to submit to Vanity Fair, I had decided that written humor was not his dish and had done nothing about it.” However, one way or another it ended up at Vanity Fair, but the magazine rejected it.
When the magazine heard about the discovered story, staff asked if they could publish “Bull Ring,” but Hemingway’s estate went with Harper’s instead.
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Other works by the author published after his death include the novels “The Garden of Eden” and “Islands in the Stream” as well as the work “True at First Light,” which combines fiction with elements of memoir.
Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 for his novel “The Old Man and the Sea” and secured the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He is also remembered for his works “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Sun Also Rises,” which was his first novel, and “A Farewell to Arms.”
The newest trailer for the 2013 film adaptation of “Great Expectations” shows protagonist Pip’s journey through life and his encounters with such characters as the tragic Miss Havisham and her ward Estella.
One possibly controversial aspect of the trailer is that it gives away who bestows on Pip (Jeremy Irvine) a large sum of money, enabling him to live as a gentleman. (The identity of his benefactor is a central mystery of the Charles Dickens novel.)
The trailer also finds Estella (Holliday Grainger), the young girl with whom Pip falls in love, warning him, “You must know, Pip, I have no heart.” Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham-Carter) tells Estella to make Pip fall in love with her, wishing to get revenge on the male gender for the way she was jilted at the altar. “He’s a common laboring boy,” Miss Havisham tells Estella. “You can break his heart.”
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Later, once Pip has come into his money, he faces prejudice from others, including a young man who tells him, “I was under the impression that the Finches was a club for gentlemen.”
The film also stars Ralph Fiennes as the convict Magwitch, “Harry Potter” actor Robbie Coltrane as the lawyer Jaggers, and “An Education” actress Sally Hawkins as Pip’s sister.
The movie is directed by Helmer Mike Newell (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”) and will be released Nov. 8 in the US.
Check out the full trailer (above).
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Author James Patterson is taking out his wallet when it comes to supporting independent bookstores.
Patterson recently announced he will be donating $1 million to indie bookstores over the next year. He had previously started a campaign titled “Who will save our books?” that consisted of ads with the text being posted all over the country. “But nothing changed,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
His $1 million donation plan was mentioned in the WSJ article, which ran Sept. 2, and the author discussed his plan further during an interview on "CBS This Morning” which ran yesterday. He said he will donate the sum to various locations over the next 12 months.
Co-host Norah O’Donnell asked him how the money will help.
“It’s going to start,” Patterson said. “It’s going to help. And it ranges from, ‘We have two people here who haven’t had a bonus in seven years,’ here’s some money. The only things we’re going to ask are: one, is it a viable bookstore, and secondly, do they have a children’s section?”
The author is behind many books for adults and children and his newest work, “Treasure Hunters,” was released yesterday. The book, which follows adventure-loving siblings who are searching for their parents, will reportedly be the first of a series.
“Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof is behind the TV adaptation, which has received a series order (10 episodes). The pilot for the show was written by Lindelof and Perrotta and actor Justin Theroux is reportedly on board to star as protagonist Kevin Garvey.
“Leftovers” takes place in a world where something like the Rapture has occurred, with a hundred people from the small town of Mapleton having abruptly vanished. Garvey, who is the police chief of the town in the TV series, according to the Hollywood Reporter (and not the mayor as in the novel), grapples with what the event means and encourages the residents of Mapleton to move forward even as his own family struggles with the aftermath of the vanishings.
Amy Brenneman of “Private Practice” will reportedly play Laurie, Kevin’s wife, while Liv Tyler will play Meg, a woman who is sought after by a mysterious cult. Actor Christopher Eccleston is also aboard the project.
Perrotta’s novel was originally published in May 2012.
A library without any printed books has opened in San Antonio, Tex.
The Bexar County Digital Library, or BiblioTech, allows users to check out e-books and audiobooks and opened on Sept. 14. According to NPR, a library in Arizona previously focused on digital materials only in 2002, but the facility later added print books back to their collection.
There are 48 computers and 600 e-readers, as well as multiple tablets and laptops, at the BiblioTech, according to the library. Staff suggest that patrons bring their own devices as well so they can access e-books and other materials more easily, but patrons can also check out e-readers for use.
The BiblioTech was the brainchild of county judge Nelson Wolff, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Wolff came up with the idea after reading about the life of Apple visionary Steve Jobs.
“E-book readership was going up, more ebooks were being produced, so we thought, why not address that segment at probably one-third of the cost... as opposed to building a big branch library?” Wolff said. “We know we're on the cutting edge. Somebody said the other day, 'There's 15,000 libraries. Are you sure you know what... you're doing? Because none of them are doing it.’ We believe we know what we're doing.”
Patrons must register and go to the library in person to prove they live in the county. If they’re using their own devices, library visitors have to download a Cloud Library app which will let them access the system and check out e-books as well as look at their account information. The app also notifies patrons of how many days they have left on a title.
Using a desktop app, library users can also read titles on a PC or Mac computer if they don’t have a phone or other smaller device.
Patron Esperanza Pargas, who is 68 and said she doesn’t have Internet access at her house, told the Express-News she thought the facility was “excellent. It's going to be very easy to pick a book and not have to worry whether I lose it or damage it.”
Belen Mendoza, who is 10, told the Express-News, “I love the games and the library. You can get it at the touch of a button.”
Will American authors qualify for the Man Booker Prize starting next year?
News reports are circulating that the prestigious prize, which in the past has been open only to authors from the UK, Ireland, and countries that are known as the Commonwealth Nations, will consider works by American writers next year.
However, according to the Guardian, the Man Booker Prize literary director Ion Trewin said of the stories, “There are going to be some changes to the rules of the Man Booker prize for fiction which have been in discussion for some while. The information which is currently in circulation is incomplete.” The full announcement will be released Wednesday, Trewin said.
The Man Booker Prize is awarded each year to an author from one of the aforementioned countries whose book is released in English and not self-published. Last year’s prize was given to author Hilary Mantel for her novel “Bring Up the Bodies” and the shortlist for this year’s prize, consisting of six nominees, was recently announced. The Booker Prize winner receives 50,000 pounds (about $80,000) and this year’s award winner will be announced on Oct. 15.
In its report on the Booker possibly beginning to accept American writers, Sunday Times writer Richard Brooks wrote that “organisers increasingly believe that excluding writers from America is anachronistic. The Booker committee believes US writers must be allowed to compete to ensure the award’s global reputation.”
When the story began circulating, some were pleased to hear the prize would be open to more writers, with Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishigoro telling the Independent that “it's sad in a way because of the traditions of the Booker, and I can understand some people feeling a bit miffed, but the world has changed and it no longer makes sense to split up the writing world in this way.”
But many others seem wary of the possibility. Writer Jim Crace, who is nominated for the prize this year for his novel “Harvest,” told the Independent that he thinks “all prizes [should be] open to everyone. But I think prizes need to have their own characters, and sometimes those characters are defined by their limitations… If you open the Booker prize to all people writing in the English language it would be a fantastic overview of English language literature but it would lose a focus. I’m very fond of the sense of the Commonwealth. There’s something in there that you would lose if you open it up to American author.”
Former Booker winner Howard Jacobson said in an interview with the Telegraph that the move would be the “wrong decision. That's all I'm going to say.”
Writer Melvyn Bragg agreed, telling the Sunday Times that he was “disappointed ... though not that surprised.”
“The Booker will now lose its distinctiveness,” he said. “It's rather like a British company being taken over by some worldwide conglomerate.”
Author Linda Grant, who was nominated for the Booker, said she felt making the prize open to American authors would be unfair because writers from the UK can’t be nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
“There are two career-changing prizes, the Booker and the Pulitzer,” she told the Guardian. “If the Booker is open to US authors it will create a huge imbalance.”