J.D. Salinger’s Leaked Book ‘Catches’ Literary PR Off-Guard

It was the day before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, no PR creature was stirring when J.D. Salinger rose from the dead and dropped three new books on the world. The aloof, cantankerous and marvelously talented Jerome David Salinger died January 2010, but he’s still making headlines just as mysteriously as he made them when he penned the American classic “The Catcher in the Rye” in 1951, following his service to our country in World War II.

What makes this all-the-more juicy is that Salinger’s posthumous headline comes as a result of an online leak. Really? I’m willing to bet a Pulitzer if J.D. Salinger was still alive, the last thing he would do is tweet a musing to the tune, “What up, peeps. It’s me #JDS. Just dropped my first novel in 60 years. #DontCallItAComeback.”

Nonetheless, there it is … and the PR types were nowhere.

I have been fortunate to represent some folk who have graced the New York Times best-sellers list, so I called a few people who chose to talk back incognito. My question was about the enigmatic Salinger, the even stranger drop of his books online and why — oh, why — is there no representation here. One critic cited:

“These books weren’t supposed to be published until 2060 because of his will, so to think PR was anywhere around this leak is preposterous. Even more so is why the estate hasn’t hired someone to wrangle the rumors, the eBay sale or even the aftermath.”

The “Three Stories” have been authenticated by Salinger scholar Kenneth Slawenski who notes that one of these was “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” which was a prequel of sorts to “Catcher in the Rye” that centered around Holden Caulfield’s brother (ironically named Kenneth).  The guy (Salinger) was the definition of a recluse. He made another literary giant, Boo Radley, seem social. Yet, there he is making the world take notice on social media.

If there is not a flack behind this eBay auction gone awry, there needs to be. The line forms to the left.