J.D. Salinger has always drawn a complicated smattering of differentiating viewpoints from everyone to literary critics, publishers, to the public at large. Now with a recent leak of three not previously published stories by Salinger occurring, his intentions both as an artist and businessman have come under heavy discussion across the internet and onto the lips of the literary savvy across the globe.
One of the first major points many are attempting to make as a result of this discovery is that despite being as reclusive and private as J.D. Salinger was during his lifetime, it seems apparent that a particular story entitled “Mrs. Hincher” proves he had contrasting motives. The story was far from the level of work Salinger demonstrated in his later work, many of which are now considered masterpieces. “Mrs. Hincher” was to be taught in school classrooms for years to come, but more simply to get Salinger names in the minds of publishers and those the power to makes things happen, start a fire for him.
It was a morose story, a comparable equivalent to a doodle inscribed by someone imitating a writer akin to Stephen King. But certainly nothing that matched up with Salinger’s styles or known intentions at the time. But that also wasn’t the point; the point was for him to get noticed so he could focus on writing the stories of Holden Caulfield, which should not be a name that is unfamiliar to any literate citizen in nearly any nation. The story was renamed “Paula” and published in a magazine particularly directed at men called Stag. Salinger’s experiment with this story in an effort to get noticed was a success and as a result he was able to set down the literary path he desired eventually resulting in the publication of the infinitely popular novel The Catcher and the Rye.
Aside from the impact of “Mrs. Hincher” on Salinger’s career, another idea being thoroughly discussed is the meaning behind the leaking of the stories itself. Due to Salinger’s reclusive nature, obviously the ins, outs, and subtle intricacies of his personality were not common knowledge. Some literary critics claim that leaking the three stories is something that Salinger himself would plan to do and execute. Some go even further by saying that Salinger had actually somehow orchestrated that these stories be leaked after his death according to his intentions, which occurred approximately three years ago. Those details are not something that can be concretely determined without being able to have a conversation with the man himself, but most scholars of literature would agree that is not far beyond the scope of something Salinger would be capable of doing, or wanting to do for that matter. The entire collection of stories that the leak is from called “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” is set to be released soon, and it is quite apparent that J.D. Salinger’s style and mindset is present throughout, but why he never published them in the first place remains a mystery. The only answer ever offered to the public was that he simply did not want to.
Editorial by Michael Blain