J.D. Salinger's books will be published digitally for the first time, according to a front page article in Monday's New York Times.
Salinger's works are the last major literary estate to enter the digital world, according to the Times. Although the reclusive Salinger hated technology, the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust decided that his work is being forgotten by a new generation geared to reading on smartphones and computer screens.
"The Catcher in the Rye," "Nine Stories," "Franny and Zooey" and "Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters and Seymour, An Introduction," will be converted into e-books, but not audio recordings, Salinger's son, Matt, announced. The estate also will continue its ban on movie versions of the books.
Matt Salinger also told the Times that more of Salinger's writing will be published in the next few years. As rumored, Salinger, who died at age 91, kept writing until the end of his life and produced a voluminous amount of new material.
A lot of the unpublished work concerns Salinger's mystical Glass family, his son said. Unable to find reliable software to convert Salinger's handwritten work into print, Matt Salinger is painstakingly typing the manuscripts.
Long a favorite of middle-school and high school classes, "The Catcher in the Rye" is seen as outdated by young readers today. Girls especially find the book unrelated to their concerns. Black readers also don't find the book relevant.
Yet, Salinger's Holden Caulfield and his memorable portrait of New York City surely will draw younger fans attuned to the beauty of language and Holden's quest for meaning.
I'll be happy to have an e-book copy of "Nine Stories" available for convenient reading. "For Esme in Love and Squalor" is one of those stories I must reread, along with "A Perfect Day for Banana Fish" and "Just Before the War With The Eskimos."
Along with many other male Salinger fans, I fell in love with Franny Glass, imagining myself also dating her on a crisp Ivy League football weekend. But when I reread the novella a few years ago, it seemed overwrought and treacly.
I consumed "Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters," and "Seymour: An Introduction," but they show a decline in Salinger's writing, with too much exposition at the expense of artistry. Still, narrator Buddy Glass, Salinger's alter-ego, is a good companion.
While I welcome the e-book publication of Salinger's classics, I can't wait to see what he was working on all of those years hiding away in New Hampshire. Perhaps brilliant new masterpieces will arrive, or disappointing, unrealized work. Either way, Salinger fans will greet them in a frenzy.