Skip

Betraying Salinger
April 6, 2010 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Betraying Salinger. "I scored the publishing coup of the decade: his final book. And then I blew it."
posted by chunking express (29 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
This article is worth a look if only for the photo of Salinger and the accompanying caption: "Salinger, photographed (very much against his will) in 1988."
posted by spoobnooble at 8:37 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like that crazy spine. Too bad it all fell through. Maybe the blue, jacketless, edition will see print? When is this work public domain?
posted by JBennett at 8:43 AM on April 6, 2010


I think Seymour: An Introduction is an absolutely amazing piece of writing. But Hapworth? Hapworth is an abomination.
posted by milarepa at 8:46 AM on April 6, 2010


This article is worth a look if only for the photo of Salinger and the accompanying caption:

Seriously. That is just about the greatest shocked face I've ever seen.

As for the article itself: Salinger was kind of a dick over this whole thing. I mean, it wasn't the publisher's fault that word got out about the book. Salinger just assumed the worst about everything, blamed the publisher and never even let him explain himself. If you're going to be like that, why even agree to let him publish it in the first place? I know Salinger is Salinger and all, but why didn't he just ignore this dude like he did everyone else?
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:49 AM on April 6, 2010


Thanks for the link. I cannot imagine the soul-crushingness of this experience.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:55 AM on April 6, 2010


God, it's like that nightmare where you look in a mirror and your teeth start falling out one by one until they're all just dropping and there's nothing you can do. I don't think Mr. Lathbury should blame himself as much as Salinger's austere and apparently easily wounded temperament, or at least his tremendous fear of publicity. (Though I'd think Salinger would have realized what would happen when the book was published, whether or not Lathbury gave interviews.)

Also I can't believe Salinger would want to meet in the National Gallery cafeteria. I mean, it's nice (I like that waterfall too, actually), but so public.

And Michiko Kakutani *shakes fist* /Mailer
posted by sallybrown at 8:56 AM on April 6, 2010


I like that crazy spine. Too bad it all fell through. Maybe the blue, jacketless, edition will see print? When is this work public domain?

In all probability, never.
posted by atbash at 8:57 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


We all should have just ignored him and pretended we didn't want to read it. Maybe it's like that video of the owner ignoring the cat until the cat is begging for petting.

They should have played an April Fool's prank on him, like made the cover look like a Harlequin romance haha.
posted by anniecat at 9:00 AM on April 6, 2010


There was also a Washington Post article about this story this past January: Publisher Roger Lathbury recalls book deal with J.D. Salinger that went sour.
posted by ericb at 9:04 AM on April 6, 2010


There was a web site with all his work in Russia, but it's been taken down now. If you look around, you can probably find his work in the "public domain".
posted by chunking express at 9:04 AM on April 6, 2010


photo of Salinger

I've always conflated that photo with that early scene in Night of the Living Dead where the graveyard zombie guy is trying to get into the car with Barbara.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:04 AM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


"A confessional passage has probably never been written that didn't stink a little bit of the writer's pride in having given up his pride."
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 9:08 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I once went to the rare books collection at Firestone Library at Princeton, where some of Salinger's uncollected stories and correspondence are kept. You have to ask the librarian to bring the box out to you. And when you do, she sighs wearily, because the library has a magnificent collection of rare manuscripts, and yet I think about 75% of their traffic is people coming in to see the stories in Redbook that Salinger correctly thought weren't good enough for Nine Stories.
posted by escabeche at 9:14 AM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


It took this guy 9 years of efforts and a lot of stress to finally not publish the book. It takes 5 seconds to find the PDF on the internet.
posted by elgilito at 9:16 AM on April 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've always conflated that photo with that early scene in Night of the Living Dead where the graveyard zombie guy is trying to get into the car with Barbara.

They're coming to get you, Franny!
posted by shakespeherian at 9:18 AM on April 6, 2010


In my mind, Salinger is always saying "get outa my yard" in that photo and the second frame is even more wonky as the photographer recovers from a bruised nose.

Great story. Charmingly told. The word reclusive is bandied about too freely whenever a supposed celebrity doesn't whore themselves enough for the media's interest, but I think it's fair to say that Salinger was somewhat cautious about protecting his privacy.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:16 AM on April 6, 2010


Once, it was a great deal that someone somewhere had put all the published but uncollected stories of Salinger online. But then I read those stories. And then especially _Hapworth 16, 1924_ made me realize the chances were very slim that anything good would ever be published by Salinger again.

Sometimes it's just better that some books aren't published. That aspect is completely lacking from the Lathbury story.
posted by ijsbrand at 10:18 AM on April 6, 2010


Christ, Salinger was an asshole. I'm glad that the last reclusive author of that era, Pynchon, is known more for his love of weed and firecrackers than being a complete self-important dick to people.

(Though if you were going to the National Mall to have lunch with Salinger, wouldn't you at least try to write "FUCK" somewhere, just to see if he goes into OCD mode? I mean come on)
posted by geoff. at 10:21 AM on April 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Nice story, thanks for linking to it.

Christ, I hate Michiko Kakutani.
posted by languagehat at 10:27 AM on April 6, 2010


Though if you were going to the National Mall to have lunch with Salinger, wouldn't you at least try to write "FUCK" somewhere

Yes. Yes I would. Oh man, that would have been glorious.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:31 AM on April 6, 2010


Kakutani's review:

The infinitely engaging author of ''The Catcher in the Rye'' (1951), the writer who captured the hearts of several generations with his sympathetic understanding, his ear for vernacular speech, his pitch-perfect knowledge of adolescence and, yes, his charm, has produced, with ''Hapworth,'' a sour, implausible and, sad to say, completely charmless story.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:32 AM on April 6, 2010


My Amerioca--guy notes that he has messed up and lost a major book. So he writes a book about losing a major book.
posted by Postroad at 11:07 AM on April 6, 2010


And Michiko Kakutani *shakes fist*

I went back and read her review. There's this tidbit:

Why wait three decades to bring out this story in book form? And why choose the obscure Orchises Press in Alexandria, Va., to publish it?


Methinks I sense some condescension, that a major author has chosen to eschew the New York publishing establishment in favor of a boutique publisher. And not bothering to tell the NY Times Books' page about this development, the NYT being the newspaper of record.

FWIW I'm really not a fan of Salinger.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 11:42 AM on April 6, 2010


Salinger is overrated.
posted by sour cream at 12:12 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Has anyone found out whether he had a bunch of unpublished works in his safe yet or not?
posted by stinkycheese at 3:53 PM on April 6, 2010


I saw a copy of "Franny and Zooey" in a bookstore and, on impulse, bought it, because I hadn't read it in 30 years and I had been thinking about Salinger since his death. I think we can agree that "Catcher in the Rye" is a good book, but I always had problems with the Glass Family. As John Updike once pointed out, Salinger loved the Glasses more than God loved the Glasses. So I read "Franny": perfectly good short story. Then I read "Zooey". Wow, I had forgotten that ending. I will not tell you what it is. Not because it would spoil the story for you, but because of the pain I would cause if I told you. But that ending doesn’t matter, because this is not a story of mysticism, it this is a story about love. Love transmitted from one member of a family to another, who transmits it to another, who transmits it to another.

It’s really a tour de force of writing, since absolutely nothing happens in the story, yet you feel the excitement of all that love passing like electricity from parent to child, child to child, child to dachshund [don’t get me started on the dachshund, pal, or we’ll be here all night]. Nobody could have written that story except J.D. Salinger, and that’s both its strength and weakness.

Haven't read "Hapworth". I would be afraid to.
posted by acrasis at 3:57 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Christ, I hate Michiko Kakutani.

Yep. No question.

posted by Wolof at 12:37 AM on April 7, 2010


Franny and Zooey is great. I read it again some time last year. The ending is wonderful. I still think his best story is Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters. It's so damn good. For Esme With Love and Squalor has an awesome ending as well. That last line is great.

Salinger is overrated.

You're overrated. OH SNAP?!
posted by chunking express at 5:57 AM on April 7, 2010


So what happens with this stuff now that Salinger has passed on?
posted by smackfu at 7:56 AM on April 9, 2010


« Older MENSA Members Love Girl Genius, duh.   |   Japan's Lonely Deaths Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post