This week, literature lovers were given a number things to eagerly await in the socially anxious, hermetic silence of their homes. First, it was announced that unpublished writings from the infamous interview shunner and phoney-hater J.D. Salinger will be released serially over the next seven years. And then, a few days later, it was announced that some chick from the Social Network and one of the interchangeable white guys from Pacific Rim have been cast as What’sherface and Christian Grey in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie!
OMFfuckingG you guys. You better get a soothing aloe gel mask for your eyes, because when these shits drop, you are gonna be reading and watching so fucking hard you’ll probably have a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Either that or an eye orgasm, or as Fifty Shades of Grey would put it, your eye’s inner sex inner goddess will be swaying and writhing to some primal carnal rhythm.
But before we discuss what a joy it will be to hear E.L. Jame’s words read aloud by bland, taupe-colored actors, let’s talk about Salinger’s new material. Salinger, of course, is best known as the author of Catcher in the Rye, which we all used to love, until we either grew the fuck up, or decided it was the realest shit ever and chose to kill John Lennon over it.
However, let’s not forget that J.D. also wrote and published Franny and Zooey, which is completely different. That book is about a disaffected, world-hating, self-isolating prick who has unnecessarily fetishized childhood, and who suffers an unprovoked emotional break down! Except you know, this time around it’s a female protagonist, with a supportive brother who isn’t dead. It’s basically a gender-bent Catcher in the Rye fan fiction.
After penning those two books, Salinger retreated into a grumpy, Boo-Radley-like existence, except with more money and a few more teeth, shunning interviews and never sharing his further literary work. But now, three years after his demise, it’s come to light that J.D. left a body of novels and short stories, as well as a precise timetable for their release, spanning the period from 2015 to 2020. One of the books apparently expands on everyone’s favorite sad white kid, Holden “not a pedophile” Caulfield.
This is a literary project whose time has come. For decades, readers have been begging to inhabit Holden’s meandering, emotionally vacuous head again. In the past sixty years we haven’t had a single petty, adolescent literary protagonist with money and a mood disorder! Now we’ll finally be able to read about the struggles of wealthy self-absorbed twenty-somethings from New York, instead of having to watch them on reruns of Girls.
And in the past, posthumous releases from famous authors have gone so well! There’s, for example, The Pale King, David Foster Wallace’s unfinished (but still loquacious) story about bored IRS workers in Peoria. This book was so goddamned dull that even Wallace himself couldn’t handle it, and that dude spent a month on the John McCain Straight-talk Express!. And then there’s Nabokov’s Original of Laura, a book he ordered his family to destroy because it sucked. And that dude waxed poetic about butterflies and explosive diarrhea.
These books were absolute boner projects better left in the trash heap, like the blind wheelchair cat on dialysis your one retired neighbor keeps talking to, and petting, and insisting loves her, because she lacks the social skills to make superficial friends at the bar like normal people do. Like your neighbor, publishers are unwilling to just let some things die.
Of course, we still have several years to wait before J.D.’s new work crawls out from the rock he kept it under. Fortunately, we can all stave off our collective cravings by watching the new Fifty Shades of Grey movie, slated for an August 2014 release!
You may be wondering: how could the dramatic reenactment of a shoddily written, BDSM bean-flicking story be a suitable replacement for Catcher in the Rye? Well, J.D. Salinger and E.L. James have a lot more in common than you might think. First, they both go by two initials rather than their actual names, as if in preemptive shame. Second, their lives are both shrouded in mystery. In both cases, the public can only speculate about the authors’ intentions, asking (in Salinger’s case), what made him so scared of publicity, and (in James’ case) is this an actual woman who knows how to read, or is she a spambot aggregator that has developed free will?
It’s not just the authors who share similarities, though. Their recent creative works have a lot in common as well. Both Fifty Shades of Grey and Salinger’s posthumous works were toiled over in obscurity, should never see the light of day, and are nonetheless being dragged out and sold because there is a teeming market of adolescents who will buy them. Salinger’s new works are the Crystal Light to his original, full calorie Catcher in the Rye; and let us never forget, Fifty Shades of Grey is a repurposed piece of Twilight fan fiction with new character names. The resulting works are the Mr Pibbs of literature, poor methadones for drugs that already had pretty bad side effects to begin with.
But let’s not stop milking these dead cows yet! There’s so much more money to be made. Next up in the marketing scheme: a Fifty Shades combination bathtub bookstand/waterproof vibrator. Also available in a Kindle version that hooks the device directly to your genitals and buzzes when the sentence structure begins to fall apart, indicating one of E.L. Jame’s sex scenes is imminent. This product will be bundled alongside a new, alternate-universe fan fiction version of Catcher in the Rye, where the main protagonist has been renamed Mark David Chapman. You guys, this decade is going to be great.