READING ‘AN OCEAN FULL OF BOWLING BALLS’ BY J.D. SALINGER
I was hesitant to post anything when ‘Three Stories’ by J.D. Salinger leaked online. If you missed it, or if your attention span skipped over the very existence of J.D. Salinger entirely, here’s the short version: J.D. Salinger was one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. For the last decades of his life, however, he published nothing. Not only that, he legally prohibited some of his earliest writing to be published in bookform, so the only way fans could read these ‘lost stories’ was by looking at them in the archives of a specific library in the U.S. No copies were allowed to be checked out. Bootleg copies of ‘Three Stories’ have been circulating amongst collectors for decades and this week, a copy not only showed up on eBay, it was also scanned and shared online. Most major news sources reported on it, proving once more how much Salinger matters, even today. Rumour has it new, unpublished Salinger books will be published starting 2015, so this could be a clever way to keep up the hype until then.
Now, I’ve always wanted to read these missing stories, but like many Salinger fans I also wanted to cherish the myth of their existence. Reading a bootleg copy also leaves a slight, niggling feeling of betrayal towards Salinger. I had already read parts of the most famous ‘missing story’, ‘An Ocean Full Of Bowling Balls’, in books about Salinger, but this is the first time I had a chance to read the whole thing. I couldn’t resist. And I’m not sorry I caved, either. It’s not as (nearly) perfect as his later work, but it’s still miles ahead of most things I’ve ever read. Dazed Digital has put up a scan of the whole story. I’m not linking to the pdf with all three stories, although I will admit that the file is sitting in my download folder right now, quietly judging me.