Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Salinger Betrayed!

Are you, gentle reader, like me? I love J.D. Salinger. No, he's not the best writer to have ever come along and he might not even be one of our 25 best writers ever but I still have a super soft spot for him. To his credit, I will say that he writes dialogue--how people actually speak including interruptions, half-finished sentences, digressions--better than any writer we have ever produced so he's got that going for him.

Assuming you have made it this far, you, too, must have been intrigued several years back when Orchises Press of Virginia erroneously announced that they were going to publish the "next" Salinger book. The publishing world had a collective gasp! It was to be a book version of the 50-page New Yorker magazine story titled "Hapworth 16, 1924" which appeared in the June 19th, 1965 issue (New Yorker subscription required to read the story). That issue, by the way, has become a cautionary tale as to why one should never throw out old magazines because you might just be tossing J.D. Salinger's last known published work. At the time I was totally excited for this because when I went to my local libraries in a search for the story I had learned about from a professor of mine-The Jones Library in Amherst as well as the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at UMass-I was profoundly dismayed to see that someone had stolen both copies of that specific issue of the New Yorker. (This was, duh, before I was Internet savvy at all.) So, I had no choice and waited for the book to come out.

And waited...and waited...and finally gave up thinking that Salinger had lived up to his grumpy, "I hate the publishing industry" ways and put the brakes on the whole thing. It turns out, he did but not because he wasn't willing to have the book come out. It turns out that the editor of Orchises Press, Roger Lathbury, fumbled the ball inside the 5-yard line. In a piece published in New York Magazine on April 4th, Mr. Lathbury finally tells just us what happened. Do yourself a favor and read this great piece on how Mr. Lathbury "scored the publishing coup of the decade: his final book. And then I blew it."

Totally amazing!

1 comment:

Brian said...

How lame am I? I printed this article out as I left work last night - and never had a chance to read it. Chris/digital 1, Brian/print 0. Glad you put it up, it is an amazing story.