J.D. Salinger, now 90 years old and still living in seclusion in New Hampshire, is suing the author and publisher of a "sequel" to Catcher in the Rye, seeking to prevent its publication later this year.
60 Years Later, by a mysterious guy living in Sweden (!) named John David California, imagines Holden Caufield as a 76-year-old escapee from a retirement home wandering the streets of New York City. Salinger's lawyers argue that "the sequel is not a parody and it does not comment upon or criticise the original. It is a ripoff pure and simple."
The suit also wonders just who the hell this California fellow is:
The lawsuit presented California as a mysterious, unsavory character, of uncertain name and location. "His precise whereabouts are unknown, despite due investigation," according to the court papers.
California—who is apparently an American—told the Telegraph that he writes under a pen name and lives near Goteborg, Sweden. He didn't reveal his identity to the paper, and said he's a Salinger fan: "I didn't mean to cause him any trouble."
Salinger's suit is similar to the efforts on the part of Margaret Mitchell's estate to block the publication of The Wind Done Gone, a reimagining of Gone With the Wind from the perspective of a slave on Scarlett O'Hara's plantation, in 2001. In that case, the estate failed to get an injunction against publication, but an appeals court decision was sympathetic enough to Mitchell's argument to convince the publisher to settle with a substantial payment.
John David California (pictured at right) seems like an awful, awful person and it sounds like and awful, awful book, but we hope Salinger doesn't succeed. We like parody. Salinger has previously sued to prevent a magazine writer from shopping around a fake interview with him and to stop an unauthorized biographer from publishing his letters, which he claimed copyright over.