Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You're Doing This...Rye?

In recent news, J.D. Salinger has launched legal action against an author named J. D. California. It seems California is publishing 60 Years Later: Coming through the rye, an (obviously) unauthorized sequel.

As someone who has extended a classic myself, you can bet I have feelings on this event.

First and foremost, I do not understand how it has even come to pass. Salinger is still alive. So how on earth would it have ever progressed to this level? What I mean is, besides the utter disrespect, the copyright would not have been expired even if he had passed on merely a year ago. Who isn’t doing their job here?

Now, as far as my thoughts on the new book. I haven’t read it but my initial reaction is I’ve never been curious what else happens to Holden. California says he has, and this is what he envisioned: "Mr. C" runs away again...from his nursing home and visits all the the same spots. Why would I want to read something disheartening? Not that I think Holden’s life turned out peachy or that his new adventure should be sugar coated. That’s just the point. We don’t know what else happened…and I’m guessing we shouldn’t.

Okay, you’re probably thinking: Then where do YOU get off writing a sequel to a classic, Mr. Von Brown? Perhaps I don’t. But allow me to tell you how I view the situation. Perhaps I do…

First and foremost, as I have made clear, my novel arose out of an Independent Study (for college credit) on Sir J.M. Barrie and discovered his notes for a sequel. Besides this scrap of thought, Barrie never stopped tinkering with Pan. The script for the play had revisions right up to opening night curtain. He added new scenes over the years. He created an epilogue (When Wendy Grew Up) performed just once. Of course, Peter first appeared in The Little White Bird and so really, the play is an extension of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. He then wrote the story into novel form, making even more changes and additions. He tried his hand a screenplay, again with tweaking. But it didn’t stop there. He scribbled out musings on his own work long after as well. Thus, the question of whether or not Peter Pan would have another adventure, I believe, is not a question at all. No doubt Barrie conceived continuation. Not only that, but as per Barrie's own novel of Peter Pan, we are told that Pan's adventures go on. And even if he didn't, "the eternal boy" says it all.

Fan Fiction? Yes, I can see why one might regard my work as fan fiction. The difference as I see it, is intention. FanFic is a way to generate more adventure for beloved characters, put into situations as per the fancy of the writer. Often (though not always, certainly) it seems to be done as a lark, something to pass the time amusingly. Oh yes, there are serious ventures. But just as many or more exist which “pair” certain characters together in a lewd manner. Hardly a serious venture. And for those FanFics writers who do "take it seriously," all the best to you. In my case, I made sure to include the various elements and ideas which Barrie left behind. Sure, some of my own ideas filled in the gaps. But on the whole I maneuvered around Barrie, his (and our) history as well as contemporary concerns.

Also, publication did not originally cross my mind. I couldn’t have not written the work if I tried. A sincere compulsion to complete the work of a treasured favorite. Why, then, have I brought my novel out? I thought it would be a nice way to celebrate the the Centennial of Peter Pan. So some years before it, I opened the window. Quite a lot happened in that pursuit. And now, so as to present a Pan adventure that’s in accordance with Barrie - which no one else has done.

My efforts, in a nutshell, are a scholarly endeavor, based on what the original author might have done. Although John David California says he also writes out of respect and love for Salinger, somehow I have trouble believing it. Though Coming through the rye is dedicated to Salinger, he calls him “the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.” Yes, it’s cute in the Twain sense. But add the fact that Salinger is somehow also a character in the book? One article said it's essentially the first book over again. Where's the pleasure in that? [And why must the title be in lower case?]

I’ve one word left: Phony.

No comments: