Three Unpublished Salinger Stories Leaked OnlineSubmitted by Michael Nystrom on Sat, 11/30/2013 - 01:08
It is a sunny, bright and crisp morning in Taipei. Samantha is visiting a friend out of town, so I've got the run of the house. After making myself a breakfast of scrambled eggs and instant coffee, I walk down the hill to the Family Mart to pick up both copies of Taiwan's English language dailies. An infinite variety of news awaits on the internet, but still I like reading the newspaper enough to make that ten minute walk down the hill, which I know implies having to walk back up the hill.
Mainly I want to check out the curated news from both papers, the Establishment Mouthpiece and the Rabid Opposition. No matter where you are in the world, the essential structure of politics remains the same.
After checking the temperature, it is onto other news. There on page 9 of today's China Post (Establishment Mouthpiece) is one of the representative little stories that brings back the joy of reading the English language press while traveling outside the US: A tiny, unassuming article from the Reuters wire, sandwiched below a story about South Africans flocking to see a Mandela biopic, and above an article about Korean "K-pop" girl group Girls' Generation winning Video of the Year at the first ever YouTube Music Awards.
The article that caught my eye, the one that constitutes the meat of that trivia sandwich, and made my heart race was the one about JD Salinger, about how three of his previously unpublished stories have been leaked online.
The story has no upvotes. There are no snarky comments below it. It is in the newspaper for crying out loud! I know that technologists are working on flexible display technology, and one day upvotes and comments and share buttons may very well appear in "newspapers" of the future. But not today.
I skim the article for the details: The stories are real; it is unclear how they were leaked, as the only known copies are in research libraries at two universities: Princeton, and the University of Texas. But it turns out there was 25-copy, unauthorized run of the three stories, printed in London back in 1999. The three stories in the collection are titled, "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," Paula," and "Birthday Boy."
This story is available only in the Princeton library. Those who wish to read it must check in with two forms of identification with the librarian, and are then supervised while they read the story behind the closed doors of a special reading room. As per the terms of Salinger's donation of the manuscript to Princeton University, it cannot be published until 50 years after his death; thus, the earliest it can be published is January 27, 2060.
Whoa! Travel to Princeton? Two pieces of ID! That's not going to work, not in this day and age.
Within a few minutes, I've managed to locate and download not only the original .pdf, but an edited & formatted cache containing the stories in .docx, .epub and .mobi files. Kindle doesn't support the open source .epub format without conversion (Grrr!), but it'll take .mobi. I upload the .mobi files, check to see that they're working, then book a date with myself tonight on the couch with my Kindle, Salinger and Kenneth Caulfield.
No doubt I'll spend my day thinking about Salinger, Holden Caulfield, Franny, Zoey and Seymour as I wander aimlessly about Taipei.
(Neither my current version, nor my high school version was reversible).