The $50,000 Sentence

J.D. Salinger was a reclusive writer (he gave his last interview in 1980) who published four books and a bunch of short stories. Among those works, of course, was The Catcher in the Rye, which made him famous. Salinger died last year in New Hampshire at the age of 91.

Now a company called History Direct is peddling a Salinger note–just a sentence, really–on eBay with a suggested price of $50,000.

The 1989 note to his maid reads:

Dear Mary—

Please make sure all the errands are done before you leave on vacation, as I do not want to be bothered with insignificant things.

Thank You,

J.D. Salinger

I’m all for writers getting paid what they’re worth, but this is definitely on the high end of the scale. Besides, Salinger has passed on, so he wouldn’t see any of the money. This seems to happen a lot to writers and authors–penniless or lacking a decent income  in life, worth a tidy sum in death.

If Salinger had known he could make good money writing notes to his maid, we might not have met Holden Caulfield.


The Odd Jobs of Literary Giants

I saw this in the latest issue of Writer’s Digest in an article by Alex Palmer, the author of Literary Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature. Many of those famous authors whose words are immortalized in literary classics did all sorts of odd jobs while they were perfecting their writing craft.

For example, meet …

Kurt Vonnegut, manager of America’s first Saab dealership

John Steinbeck, painter, fruit picker, estate caretaker and Madison Square Garden construction worker

Stephen King, high school janitor

Harper Lee, reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines

J.D. Salinger, entertainment director on a Swedish luxury ocean liner

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