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Book News: Leaked Salinger Stories Pose An Ethical Dilemma

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Three unpublished stories by J.D. Salinger have been leaked online, seemingly from the eBay auction of a rare and unauthorized volume called Three Stories. The stories have previously been available only for viewing in research libraries. Salinger scholar Kenneth Slawenski told BuzzFeed that the three stories seem to be genuine: "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." One of the stories, "An Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," is a companion story to The Catcher in the Rye, and is available for supervised viewing in the Princeton University library. A Princeton spokesperson told The Guardian, "The story is probably an unauthorised version transcribed longhand in our reading room." The other two stories, "Paula" and "Birthday Boy," are at the University of Texas's Harry Ransom Center. Salinger was fiercely private, and likely would have been upset by the leak. When a group of fans tried to put together an unauthorized collection of stories in the 1970s, Salinger told The New York Times, "I wanted [the stories] to die a perfectly natural death. I'm not trying to hide the gaucheries of my youth. I just don't think they're worthy of publishing." He added, "I just want all this to stop."
  • In an appearance on CBS' 60 Minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced prototype delivery drones, or "Octocopters," that the company hopes to use to "get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less." A video of a prototype Octocopter shows a worker in an Amazon warehouse putting an order in a box and placing it on a conveyer belt. A boxy, four-legged machine then picks up the box and flies it to a customer's home. But according to Amazon's YouTube page, delivery drones won't be ready anytime soon: "Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations."
  • André Schiffrin, the longtime publisher of Pantheon Books and the founder of the New Press, died Sunday at age 78. In 1990, he was fired from Pantheon for refusing to cut either his catalogue or his staff, resulting in a scandal that, as The New York Times reported, "made headlines, prompted resignations by colleagues, led to a protest march joined by world-renowned authors, and reverberated across the publishing industry in articles and debates."
  • The poet, translator and Soviet dissident writer Natalya Gorbanevskaya died Friday at age 77. Held in a psychiatric hospital from 1969 until 1972 as a result of her opposition to Soviet human rights abuses, she was one of the founders of the underground magazine The Chronicle of Current Events. In a poem translated into English by Daniel Weissbort, Gorbanevskaya writes:
  • "Poor Europe, my cemetery verses are proof of a powerlessness,

    irreparable love to the end,

    a last grimace of the face,

    yourself, marked with a network of slits

    of trenches, when soldiers don't matter

    but there's freedom for the breeze,

    for trucks and armored cars."

    The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

  • Antonio Munoz Molina's In the Night of Time is a vast, architectural novel sensitively translated from Spanish by Edith Grossman. During the Spanish civil war, Ignacio Abel flees Madrid, where he saw the faces of friends "transformed overnight into the faces of executioners or prophets or fugitives or cattle brought to the slaughter."
  • Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, is a collection of 21 original stories about "sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen; deadly female serial killers, [and] formidable female superheroes." Dozois writes in his introduction to the collection, "Here you'll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie thesewomen to the railroad tracks, you'll find you have a real fight on your hands."
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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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