So today I saw a story saying that a sequel to Catcher in the Rye has been published. What’s this, I thought to myself, Saligner has dragged himself from his self-imposed isolation to rock the literary fiction scene? But turns out no such thing is on the cards. Instead the book has been penned by first time novelist John David California and published by the very small Windupbird Publishing.
Ok, I can just about get with the idea of sequels being written by someone else if the author of the original tale dies unexpectedly – and then only if it’s done with great sensitivity – but to take someone else’s character and transplant then 60 years on? I don’t like it. Maybe the book itself, titled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, is a work of genius but for me that will never make up for the fact that it’s not California’s creation.
While many of the world’s most popular characters have specific hallmarks or patterns of speech that make them instantly recognisable, to me a character in a novel is a very personal thing – and an absolute understanding of one is not something that can be assumed.
But maybe I’m just being snobby – and maybe it’s something of a genre issue I’m having. After all TV series are written by teams of people normally, as are many films, while comic’s most iconic figures generally pass through the hands of scores of writers – each of whom is welcome to put their own slant on the character. But in the comic industry it’s expected as an integral part of the genre, and one that allows for a very different experience to that of conventional novels and in that respect I can’t get my head around it.
I haven’t read Catcher in the Rye in a long while, but Holden holds a special place in my teenage heart. I honestly don’t want to think of him being strong-armed into growing up – whether he’s been created as a genuine expression of admiration or not.