Three unpublished works by J.D, Salinger, including The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls, have been leaked online after showing up in an eBay auction. Birthday Boy, Paula, and the aforementioned Ocean are three short stories that form part of a larger collection of Salinger works that was never published. The trio of stories was uploaded in a PDF file that appears to have been scanned from an unauthorized book simply titled Three Stories, before the leak was detailed on Reddit. Although the book has a barcode and ISBN, the code leads nowhere.
"They look to be true transcripts."
The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls is a much sought-after tale as it relates with characters that appear in Salinger's most famous novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Until now, it's only been available to be read under supervision at Princeton University's Firestone Library. The two other stories can also be found in University of Texas’ Ransom Center, and have been confirmed as genuine. Speaking with BuzzFeed, Salinger expert Kenneth Slawenski confirms the authenticity of the leaked stories. "While I do quibble with the ethics (or lack of ethics) in posting the Salinger stories," notes the scholar, "they look to be true transcripts of the originals and match my own copies."
Although the origin of the three stories is unclear, the book first surfaced in a British eBay listing. Sold by an eBay member from Brentford in London, the book sold for just £67.50 (roughly $110) at auction. Whoever bought it then proceeded to scan and upload its contents to the members-only torrent site what.CD.
The importance of this leak can't be overstated; Salinger was a notoriously private man, and although his family will release some of his unpublished works starting in 2015, it's thought that the stories leaked today did not figure in the Salinger estate's plans. Instead, they were scheduled to be published no earlier than 2051, in respect of Salinger's will, which ordered they remain hidden away until 50 years after his death.
An eBay address may explain the book's origin
It's likely we'll hear more about how and why the bootleg book came to be in the possession of a Londoner. The original eBay auction lists a full London address under the item's location, which, if genuine, could lead to the seller being questioned on the book's origin. The seller will also have the address that he sent the book to, possibly leading law enforcement to whoever scanned and uploaded the stories.