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The Whiniest Teenager In Literature Returns!

J.D. Salinger has never been keen on allowing other writers to draw from The Catcher in the Rye. A few years ago, Salinger won a lawsuit that barred an author from publishing in the United States after he penned a novel featuring Holden Caulifield as an old man.

Salinger died in 2010, but I doubt his lawyers will think too highly of Mary O’ Connell, a young adult author who recently landed a deal with Amy Einhorn Books to publish In The Rye. Publisher’s Marketplace describes the novel this way:  “Caulfield steps out of the pages of The Catcher in the Rye and into the life of a high school senior searching Manhattan for her missing American lit teacher.”

Meh. One big fat meh.

Why can’t today’s average authors just leave the classics alone? Holden Caulifield was Salinger’s vision, and The Catcher in the Rye doesn’t need Mary O’ Connell’s two cents. To me, this just seems an insult to Salinger and an ego trip by O’ Connell. Leave this story alone, please.

Very few authors can pull this type of thing off. See Scarlett–the “sequel” to Gone With The Wind. And, though, Wide Sargasso Sea was a respectable “prequel” to Jane Eyre–it’s really one of the few exceptions.

I don’t get the feeling this book will be any different. Just leave The Catcher In The Rye alone. And, fellow authors, let’s also vow to never, ever, ever, ever attempt to build on or add to To Kill A Mockingbird in any way. If you do this, Atticus Finch will leap out of his fictional grave and prosecute you into oblivion.

Well, now that you know my thoughts…what do you think about what Mary O Connell is attempting to do with The Catcher In The Rye?

More on this at the New York Times. 

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. I read Scarlett when it came out and I was so excited to find out “what happened next”! (I was young) And even at that young age, when I finished the book I was so disappointed because it wasn’t “what happened” it was just someone else’s idea. Only Margaret Mitchell could really tell us what happened next and for whatever reason she didn’t want to or passed away before she oould.

    I agree, if you didn’t write the original you can’t write the sequel (or prequel) because these aren’t your characters. And forgive me but this particular idea sounds horribly mediocre!

    Like

    November 7, 2012
    • I never read Scarlett, but I think your take is the normal view. It was a disaster.

      Like

      November 7, 2012
  2. I don’t think anybody should mess with classics. Making a movie is one thing but using a character you didn’t create is messed up and lazy. I will not read her book because I like Catcher in the rye a lot and have too much respect for J.D. Salinger.

    Like

    November 7, 2012
  3. Dominick Sabalos #

    Does fanfiction about the exploits of Atticus Finch and Teddy Roosevelt’s time-travelling detective duo count?

    As a side note, I only just bought Catcher in the Rye yesterday. Partly because I’ve never read it before and feel I should, and partly because it’s an adorable tiny Reclam edition, and I love Reclam.

    Like

    November 7, 2012
  4. There seem to be a lot of YA books that are reworkings of classic literature, and I just don’t get it. (To be fair, this isn’t unique to YA, but I’m more nervous about it, because it seems to thrust these pale imitations on teens before they even get a chance to read the real thing.) I’m worried that it is becoming normal for teen books to be an echo of existing literature rather than original material. This novel, of course, seems particularly egregious because it is using not a Holden Caulfield stand-in but Holden himself. I suppose that, in addition to being unimaginative, that actually enters the realm of the gimmicky.

    You mentioned Wide Sargasso Sea, which I think is a great example of a prequel novel that actually works. The difference between that book and so many others, though, is that it is also great literature. The connection to Jane Eyre is not a gimmick; actually, I like to think of the book as literary criticism that happens to be in the form of a novel. Rhys picks up themes of racial tension and colonialism that are in Jane Eyre but not at the forefront. Thus, her book has a unique and valid perspective.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we can expect the same from In the Rye. I wouldn’t mind a book that was playfully referential to Catcher, but taking that novel’s main character and using him for your own purposes is crossing a line.

    Like

    November 7, 2012
  5. I’m pretty tired of all the Jane Austen knockoffs, myself. I don’t typically care for the hijacking of classics to capitalize on readership. It seems like a cheap sleight of hand. I KNOW you’re not the original author… Find your own story, yo. (Unless it’s satire. I’ll make exceptions for excellent satire.)

    Like

    November 7, 2012
    • It’s like P Diddy ripping off everyone else’s music and making his own song from it. Come up with something original!

      Like

      November 7, 2012
      • Oh man. You just earned yourself 10,000 brownie points for bringing up P Diddy. Awesome.

        Like

        November 7, 2012
  6. Reblogged this on Books to Mark and commented:
    Noo! Catcher is one of my favorites, come up with something else! Or even just naming it differently would be better…

    Like

    November 7, 2012
  7. In The Rye sounds awful. WTF has it got to do with Sallinger’s classic? O’Connell is just taking the piss…

    Like

    November 7, 2012
  8. I don’t know. I think it depends. Sometimes its interesting to look at a literary icon from another perspective, and I am usually open to other authors writing “sequels”. That said, however, I find them often mediocre, as others have mentioned with Scarlett. After all, you don’t have to read them if you prefer to keep a particular image of a character as intended by the original author. There are some things that must remain sacred. So to speak.

    Like

    November 7, 2012
  9. I like books that take a sliver of a classic and build upon that. But to try and re-create the tone and atmosphere of a classic is nearly always a wasted effort.

    Like

    November 7, 2012
  10. I tend to get a little hyped up (not in a good way) about classics being reworked. However, I do have conflicting thoughts about it. So even though I’m not keen on it:

    1. I can just ignore them and choose not to read them. It’s none of my business whether or not others decide to read them.

    2. These kinds of books have the potential to get people (who might not otherwise) read the original works that these spin-offs come from. That would definitely be a plus.

    Like

    November 8, 2012
    • Typo alert! I left out the word “to”…”to get people TO read.”

      Like

      November 8, 2012
  11. This is one of my all time favorite novels, it’s perfection from start to finish the idea of someone messing with it sends horrified shivers down my spine…

    Like

    November 8, 2012
  12. If somebody desperately wants to write a novel, but has no of his own, he steals another character.

    Like

    November 8, 2012
  13. Reblogged this on On My Stereo.

    Like

    November 8, 2012
  14. The Canon Revised #

    I don’t much care for anyone picking up where another left off. There are exceptions I suppose, fan-fiction, collaborations, etc. But the book will probably sell well because of the title. I guess we’ll just have to read it and see.

    Like

    November 8, 2012
  15. I don’t like Catcher in the Rye so I couldn’t care less if someone hijacks it.

    My perspective is rather different – it’s true that a lot of these attempts fail miserably, but I don’t like writing them off completely.

    I read a novel in which the author re-told Pride & Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective using letters he wrote to various people (mostly his sister, if I remember correctly). It was very well done and also a wonderful read.

    I rather agree with Heather. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. It’s not as if they will ever live up to the originals in fame and they have no actual effect on the original book.

    Like

    November 8, 2012
  16. I don’t see the value in it at all, for the author nor any potential audience.

    Mary O’Connell won’t get the satisfaction of having created her own original character and story, and any potential market are most likely to be put off by the fact she’s dared mess with such a ‘classic’ classic. To me, it just seems a way of making a quick buck. Maybe the writing will be as good as Salinger’s (which I must admit I rather doubt), but it’s a big risk to take with the work of such an esteemed author. No matter how excellently it was written, in directly associating herself with ‘The Catcher’ and hence Salinger’s reputation she would, by default, force a comparison which would only haunt the rest of her working life.

    I believe books are meant to inspire, but they’re intended to stimulate your own works of literature, not a continuation of someone else’s.

    Like

    November 10, 2012

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