J.D. Salinger sues to block a "Catcher" sequel

Question: What does it take to lure reclusive author J.D. Salinger out of hiding? Answer: the threat of an unauthorized sequel to his 1951 classic "Catcher in the Rye."

The blogosphere began buzzing a few weeks ago with reports that a writer called J.D. California would this fall publish a book called "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye" that follows the experiences of "Catcher" protagonist Holden Caulfield as an elderly man. Yesterday, Salinger filed a lawsuit in US district court in Manhattan saying the work infringes on his copyright and asking the court to block its publication, which is scheduled for September.

But does it?  " 'Catcher in the Rye' is a touchstone," points out Vicki Karp, blogging on Huffington Post. "It is published. It is no longer wholly and only the author's. Beyond this, general feeling among readers is that books 50 years or older naturally lean into fences of privacy until they pretty much touch down on public domain."

Salinger holds the copyright on the book. His lawsuit asserts that, "The sequel is not a parody and it does not comment upon or criticize the original. It is a rip-off pure and simple."

(Chapter and Verse readers are invited to check the Monitor's 6/1/09 Books podcast.)

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