Thursday 26 April 2018

Holden's back – in unpublished Salinger books

John Boland

That most reclusive of American writers, JD Salinger, died in 2010, 45 years after his last published work appeared in The New Yorker, but now there's the prospect of five hitherto unpublished Salinger books.

Fans will be thrilled, especially those whose adolescence was defined by his 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye, and who have got more sense and substance out of such subsequent novels as For Esme with Love and Squalor and Franny and Zooey than I was ever able to manage.

Holed up for four decades in his New Hampshire hideaway, the cult author refused any contact with a curious literary world and took a legal action against would-be biographer Ian Hamilton, whose ensuing book about the episode, In Search of JD Salinger (1988), makes fascinating, if frustrating, reading.

Yet apparently Salinger left instructions that after his death some further stories be published about the Glass family of his early fiction, along with another book about the family of Holden Caulfield, the traumatised young narrator of The Catcher in the Rye whose hatred of "phonies" has so enraptured generations of teenagers.

Maybe there's a masterpiece among them but it all seems too little, too late and I can only imagine Holden's own jaundiced reaction.

*****

Since his untimely death last week, Seamus Heaney has been routinely honoured, in headlines and commentaries, as "the greatest Irish poet since Yeats".

That may well be. But such a claim ignores the enduring legacy of Patrick Kavanagh, a poet who seems better and better every time I read him.

Heaney himself was in no doubt about the stature of Kavanagh, a poet whom he loved deeply, and I'm sure he would also have included Louis MacNeice in the pantheon of great Irish poets of the last century. And let's not forget Paul Muldoon, who spoke so affectingly at Heaney's funeral Mass and whose work is dazzlingly good.

So enough with hierarchies and let's just salute the passing of a wonderful poet.

Irish Independent

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment