BY MIKE BEEMAN
Every day our team of dedicated sleuths diligently scours the web for book-related news, and today we stumbled across a startling discovery. After decades of speculation, the fabled “Fiction Vault” of J.D. Salinger was briefly opened to a select number of friends, relatives, and creditors of the late, great author. Using an iPhone, one anonymous viewer managed to snap a few pictures. Although he or she only managed low-quality images of the cover pages of a few manuscripts, these are sure to be the most telling and conclusive blurry photos of American lore since Roger Patterson captured his definitive photo of Big Foot in 1967. The pics were routed through Romania, from there sent to a cyber-cafe in Seoul, South Korea, smuggled on a flash drive to Ka, Turkey, and finally traded for 100 units of gold in the game World of Warcraft to a California resident known only by his screen name, “Noobzilla.” The pictures Noobzilla released speak for themselves.
The first picture reveals a rough draft of Gravity’s Rainbow, a novel previously attributed to reclusive author Thomas Pynchon. This finally proves the long-speculated conspiracy theory that Thomas Pynchon is actually one of the earliest pen names of the reclusive Salinger. But the surprises are far from over.
Blurry, but legible, we see the title-page to Pulitzer-prize winning A Confederacy of Dunces, originally believed to be written by John Kennedy Toole, who died a decade before his book’s publication.
From there, the pictures provide a telling story. Salinger’s prolific output and rigid writing schedule allowed him to produce dozens of novels, all attributed to reclusive, deceased, or imaginary authors (J.T. LeRoy, Alice Munro, and Cormac McCarthy, respectively). It appears that Salinger wrote many novels and short stories, in many styles, during the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Interestingly, his work, marketed under a myriad of names, was responsible for many major literary movements, several spawned in direct opposition to movements heralded by his prior work. However, during his twilight years, Salinger’s output took a tragic turn.
That’s right. Salinger started writing for television in the mid-nineties, and churned out scripts for, among others, “Friends”, “Buffy the Vampire-Slayer”, “Sister Sister”, and “That’s So Raven”. Always the convert to new religions, it seems the author’s final god of choice was sitcom television.
(There is no evidence of any involvement in the Twilight Saga, thankfully).
But it’s the last bit of stolen information that will haunt Salinger’s fans, for it paints the saddest picture. It appears Salinger’s last days were spent writing as Lisa Scottoline, author of such forgettable works as Think Twice, Look Again, Lady Killer, and Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, and writer of the Philadelphia Enquirer‘s “Chick Wit” column (also a prolific spammer of junk mail to Chamber Four’s home office). In the end, Salinger spent his final days savagely marketing the last persona his failing mind produced. Clearly, his genius was ravaged by dementia and time.
There is no news yet regarding his long-awaited masterpiece, and sequel to Catcher in the Rye, a manuscript tentatively titled, “Raise High the April Fools.”