Much attention has been given to the recent oral biography Salinger, in which the claim is made that the author of The Catcher in the Rye carried on writing until his death in 2010. Salinger's last published story – "Hapworth 16, 1925" – appeared in the New Yorker in June 1965. But according to David Shields and Shane Salerno, the authors of Salinger, several completed works exist among the author's papers, of which publication is set to begin in 2015. The work that will be most keenly anticipated is The Family Glass, which collects "all the existing stories about the Glass family, together with five new stories that significantly extend the world of Salinger's fictional family". All five concern Seymour Glass, whose suicide was recorded in the original Glass story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" (1948). One "deals with Seymour's life after death". All are said by Shields and Salerno – who haven't read them – to be "saturated in the teachings of the Vedantic religion". Another posthumous work is a manual of Vedanta, "with short stories, almost fables, woven into the text". A full-length novel is thought to be based on Salinger's relationship with his first wife. Should it appear, it will be only his second novel, extraordinary as it seems. It has a wartime setting, as does a new novella.
Fans of the Glass and Caulfield clans will look forward to it all. It is seldom remarked, however, that there already exists a collection of stories by Salinger, not published in the usual sense but available to anyone with access to a computer. "Uncollected Stories" consists of twenty-one tales published in the 1940s, in magazines such as Collier's, Esquire and the Saturday Evening Post. Once, it would have been necessary to go to a major American library to read them, but now you can print them out at your desk. Some are good, and even the earliest have the recognizable likeable touch. Here is the opening paragraph of "The Young Folks", written when Salinger was twenty-one and probably his first professionally published sentences:
"About eleven o'clock, Lucille Henderson, observing that her party was soaring at the proper height, and Just having been smiled at by Jack Delroy, forced herself to glance over in the direction of Edna Phillips, who since eight o'clock had been sitting in the big red chair, smoking cigarettes and yodelling hellos and wearing a very bright eye which young men were not bothering to catch. Edna's direction still the same, Lucille Henderson sighed as heavily as her dress would allow, and then, knitting what there was of her brows, gazed about the room at the noisy young people she had invited to drink up her father's Scotch."
"Uncollected Stories", which sits before us in a 230-page A4 print-out, contains several stories involving members of the Caulfield family, including baby sister Viola – never to be seen again – and Kenneth, who died young. In The Catcher in the Rye, Kenneth appears to have been replaced by the deceased brother Allie (neither makes an actual appearance).
Salinger said of these early stories that he was happy to let them die a natural death. He failed to foresee the internet. Salinger by Shields and Salerno will be reviewed in a forthcoming issue of the TLS.