The lady in possession of the one identified audio recording of late writer J.D. Salinger says she plans to have it cremated alongside her when she dies, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
Then a reporter for the Baton Rouge Advocate, Betty Eppes managed to trace down the notoriously non-public writer at his residence in Cornish, New Hampshire, in 1980. Salinger hadn’t revealed any new work since Catcher within the Rye, which got here out in 1965; he hadn’t given any interviews in a few years (whereas Bloomberg cites the final prior interview as occurring in 1953, he spoke with the New York Times in 1974). Eppes advised Bloomberg that she had been seeking to land probably the most troublesome interviews attainable and settled on Salinger over two competing candidates, Thomas Pynchon and brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
As Bloomberg famous, it’s solely comparatively just lately in historic phrases that the general public is aware of what authors sound like—earlier than 1950 or so, authors had been relatively unlikely to be recorded speaking, and even much less possible for these recordings to outlive. In probably the most well-known examples, no known recordings of Nineteen Eighty-4 writer George Orwell survive, relatively inexplicably as he was a regular fixture on BBC Radio. It’s little shock that the identical is true of Salinger as a result of, though he lived till 2010, he was deluged by followers and media requests after the publication of Catcher within the Rye and reacted by retreating from superstar life as totally as attainable.
Eppes had an fascinating method round this. She misled him. Eppes advised Bloomberg that she had poked round speaking to locals in Cornish to determine the writer’s hangouts, in addition to handed on a letter to him by way of the publish workplace during which she launched herself not as a reporter “however a novelist—tall, with inexperienced eyes and red-gold hair—who had no intention of ‘usurping any of your privateness.’” (One cause the request could have gotten Salinger’s consideration: What writer Joyce Maynard described as his predatory behavior of grooming a lot youthful girls in the literary field.)
Within the letter, Eppes advised Bloomberg, she talked about a attainable assembly location at a neighborhood buying heart the subsequent morning. Lo and behold, Salinger appeared and commenced speaking, though Eppes by no means knowledgeable him she had a hidden voice recorder:
Lo and behold, the 61-year-old Salinger confirmed up the subsequent morning sporting denims, sneakers, and a shirt jacket. Eppes turned on the recorder and requested him if Holden Caulfield, his most well-known character, was ever going to develop up. “It’s all within the e-book,” he mentioned. She additionally requested about Salinger’s expertise in World Conflict II, whether or not he was nonetheless writing, why he refused to publish any longer, and whether or not he believed within the American dream. “My very own model of it, sure,” he mentioned.
In all, Eppes recorded 27 minutes’ price of dialog with Salinger earlier than among the locals came to visit and tried to shake his hand. Offended, he stormed off again residence.
A model of the interview was published in the Paris Review in 1981, however the audio has by no means been publicly launched. Approaching an interview on this style could be a reasonably severe violation of journalistic ethics with out extraordinary circumstances, and this case doesn’t match the invoice. To her credit score, Eppes advised Bloomberg she feels fairly badly about the entire thing.
Eppes advised Bloomberg she had turned down a $500,000 supply from a “rich, international get together” shortly after the publication of the Paris Evaluate piece, and didn’t present any audio to director Shane Salerno for his 2013 documentary, Salinger: “Within the years after I did that, I got here to remorse it, terribly, terribly. I’ve spent many, many, many, many hours a day serious about this. And, after all, it means an terrible lot to me.”
“Typically, I get up in the midst of the evening and I feel, ‘I stole that. I stole his voice,’” Eppes added. “ that’s like stealing any individual’s soul, proper? That tape just isn’t mine to offer or promote.”
Bloomberg reported that in a follow-up name, Eppes confirmed that she is going to regulate her will to make sure that the audiotape is cremated in her coffin after her dying. The recording itself is at present in a secure deposit field.