But it is almost 2018 and no books have been released. So where are they?
âYeah, what came of those?â Matthew Salinger, the authorâs son, said in a brief phone interview this month.
When the authorâs widow, Colleen OâNeill, answered the phone at her home in New Hampshire this month, she said, âIâm sorry, I canât take this phone call,â and hung up.
Mr. Salinger, who controls the J. D. Salinger Literary Trust along with Ms. OâNeill, shares his fatherâs disdain for the public spotlight. Did his father continue writing late into his life? Did he leave anything to be published?
âYou are not going to get an answer from me,â Mr. Salinger said. Before hanging up, he added, âI would consider the source.â
The source was âSalinger,â the 2013 documentary and book by the same name, by David Shields and Shane Salerno, who spent nine years researching and producing them. In the last pages of the book, they cite two âindependent and separateâ anonymous people who assert that J. D. Salinger left instructions âauthorizing a specific timetableâ for the release of five additional works.
Over the years, a friend of Mr. Salingerâs, a former lover and even his daughter, who was disowned, said he continued to write, both exploring new tales and picking up where his published stories had ended. His daughter, Margaret Salinger, wrote in her 2000 memoir, âDream Catcher,â that her father had shown her his âvaultâ in his home, where he wrote in privacy and marked manuscripts with colored dots indicating what was to be edited, published or discarded after his death.
Ms. Salinger could not be reached for comment, and her book publicist said she had not worked with Ms. Salinger in years and did not know how to find her.
But all of the claims lacked specificity until âSalinger,â which detailed what Mr. Salinger was said to have written, edited and prepared for publication. The five works came from what Mr. Salinger compiled from 1941 to 2008, according to âSalinger.â
One new book, âThe Family Glass,â is said to include five new stories about the Glass family, who also appeared in the 1961 book âFranny and Zooeyâ and other stories. There would also be a novel set during World War II and based on his first marriage; a novella about his time in the war; and a retooled version of the short story âThe Last and Best of the Peter Pansâ that would include new stories about the Caulfields, the fictional family in âThe Catcher in the Rye,â his signature 1951 book that remains required reading for high school students every year. (Read the original Times review.)
Mr. Salerno, who produced and directed the documentary, said in a recent interview that he stood by the claims. He said the veracity of the assertions in âSalingerâ could be questioned only if nothing were published by Jan. 1, 2021.
âHow did I ever manage to get any of this stuff without Matthew Salinger?â Mr. Salerno wrote in an email. âItâs very simple, despite his fervent hope to be the only source about his father, Matthew Salinger is ultimately just one source. Itâs critical to point out the following: Matthew Salinger has never disputed a single fact contained in either the book or film.â
Throughout his life, J. D. Salinger craved control over his writings. When he broke his silence in 1974, he agreed to an interview with The New York Times so he could condemn the publication of âThe Complete Uncollected Short Stories of J. D. Salinger, Vols. 1 and 2,â an unauthorized release of his early writings. (âSome stories, my property, have been stolen,â he said.)
His last published work, âHapworth 16, 1924,â appeared in The New Yorker in June 1965, but Mr. Salinger decided in the mid-1990s to release it as a novella. He chose a small publishing company, Orchises Press, and demanded that the distribution be limited, that bookstores could not discount the price and that his name not be included on the cover.
But shortly before the workâs release, a reporter uncovered details about it in a Library of Congress catalog, and the story spread. Afterward, Mr. Salinger never called Orchises Press to finalize the publication and it was never released, Roger Lathbury, the companyâs owner, recounted in New York magazine after the authorâs death.
The authorâs son and widow have continued to exert strict control over Mr. Salingerâs writings. His literary trust objected when a publisher in Tennessee compiled three of Mr. Salingerâs earliest stories, which it claimed were no longer under copyright, and printed them in an e-book and then in paperback. Two of the stories were first printed in the 1940s in the magazine Story, whose editor, Whit Burnett, is portrayed by Kevin Spacey in âRebel in the Rye.â
The Tennessee publisher wanted to sell the book, âThree Early Stories,â overseas but claimed the authorâs literary trust had worked with international publishers and literary agents to thwart its publication. The publisher, the Devault-Graves Agency, sued the trust but dropped the case in 2015.
As for whether Mr. Salingerâs fans should believe new books are coming, his son declined to say. Maybe one day he will reveal if any exist, Matthew Salinger said.