While your family spins and twirls around the kitchen, or congregates around the television for football, maybe you can curl up on the couch and enjoy three new J.D. Salinger stories that leaked online late Wednesday evening.
An odd tale that involves some dark Internet corners, but here we go. The commonly accepted lineage goes like this: the three unpublished stories were for sale in paperback on eBay here, then a scan was uploaded to the private-torrent site What.CD, and from there made its way to Imgur, 4Chan and, eventually, Reddit.
The three stories — “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” “Paula,” and “Birthday Boy” — were only available to scholars and experts before. "Ocean," was only available at the Princeton library, under strict conditions. To access the story, two pieces of identification must be presented to the librarian, and the story can only be read under supervision in a special reading room. The other two stories were only available at the University of Texas's Harry Ransom Center.
The scanned paperback alleges 25 copies were printed in London, in 1999, but none have never surfaced until now. Their existence has been heretofore completely unknown. The three stories have never appeared online or in print.
Buzzfeed confirmed the stories' authenticity with a leading Salinger expert:
Salinger scholar Kenneth Slawenski, author of J.D. Salinger: A Life confirms that these are truly Salinger’s unpublished stories, having read the previously guarded manuscripts. In an email to BuzzFeed, he wrote “While I do quibble with the ethics (or lack of ethics) in posting the Salinger stories, they look to be true transcripts of the originals and match my own copies.”
For Salinger fans who thought they may never venture to Princeton, "Oceans" leaking is something of a treat. Thought to be one of his best works, the story traces the development of Kenneth Caulfield, who Salinger later developed into Allie, the younger brother to Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield. As per the Salinger estate's wishes, the story was not to be published until January 27, 2060, 50 years after Salinger's death. How the manuscript leaked remains a mystery.
It should be noted that What.CD wants no part of this controversy. The original torrent file was removed and administrators posted a note threatening to disable any account that re-uploads the stories, out of respect for the author's estate.
The three works leaked today have no connection to the other unpublished Salinger stories uncovered by the Salinger documentary researchers. Those five books will not be released until 2015, at the earliest.