Wednesday, June 3, 2009

J.D. Makes Wry Face Over Catcher Rip-off

"Catcher in the Rye" author J.D. Salinger lives a reclusive existence in Cornish, N.H., but the 90-year-old literary icon may have made a frightening discovery on a recent tour of the Amazon(.com)--"60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,"--a pre-pub unauthorized sequel by the pseudonymous John David California.
Salinger is seeking an injunction preventing the release of the book and damages in a copyright infringement suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case, J.D. Salinger, Trustee of the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust v. John Doe writing as John David California, Windup Bird Publishing, Ltd., Nicotext, A.B., and APB, Inc. d/b/a SCB Distributors, Inc. (1:09-cv-05095), was brought by Salinger, who holds the copyright on his literary work and its characters, and does not want a sequel. Salinger's complaint noted that "60 Years" is neither a parody nor literary criticism that could withstand a copyright infringement challenge, whereas the author himself was more blunt in describing the work as a "rip-off."
"60 Years" features a 76-year-old upstate N.Y. retirement home escapee identified as "Mr. C.," that the lawsuit claims bears a striking resemblance to Catcher's 16-year-old protagonist, Holden Caulfield. The work, available in London and scheduled for release in the U.S. in September, is dedicated to Salinger and also includes him as a character.
Salinger who wrote "Catcher" in 1951, has received numerous literary accolades for the novel about an alienated teen, which, according to the lawsuit, has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide. Salinger in the past has rejected overtures from Hollywood heavyweights such as Steven Spielberg and Harvey Weinstein, to make a film version, and in 2003 prevented the BBC from staging a television production of "Catcher."
Salinger has resorted to the courts before, successfully suing in 1982 to prevent publication in a national magazine of a fictitious interview with Salinger, and also sued Random House in 1987 to block an unauthorized biography gleaned from Salinger's unpublished letters.
Amazon's biography of J.D. California says he is the offspring of an American father and Swedish mother who toiled in a traveling circus. California is described as a former gravedigger and triathlete who has authored film scripts and done freelance travel writing for international magazines.
Judge Deborah A. Batts will hear the case, and it won't be surprising if she winds up "holden" for the plaintiff.
Apparently, Salinger thinks J.D. California is a crumb-bum and that writing a book about his character is a lousy thing to do. Guess I'll hold off on releasing my short story, "Zany and Frooey."

1 comment:

  1. Salinger is taking a risk because all that stuff about seeing a rocket shoot down an American airliner could definitely damage his credibility. Sure, he was Kennedy's press secretary, but . . . oh, that was Pierre Salinger. Never mind.