How I Failed to Get Salinger's Final Book Into Print

All went well until Roger Lathbury talked to reporters
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2010 8:38 AM CDT
How I Failed to Get Salinger's Final Book Into Print
Copies of JD Salinger's classic novel The Catcher in the Rye as well as his volume of short stories called Nine Stories are seen at the Orange Public Library in Orange Village, Ohio on Jan. 28, 2010.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

The publisher of a tiny independent press could hardly believe it when JD Salinger agreed to his request to publish Hapworth 16, 1924, Salinger's "great mystical not-quite-lost work." But as the publication date approached, Roger Lathbury made a fatal mistake. He recounts his misstep—and the joy of working with the author before making it—in a lengthy feature in New York.

Lathbury managed to meet all of Salinger's finicky bookbinding and typeface requests, but the trouble started when he applied for Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data. It was a seemingly benign move, but one that, unbeknown to him, got the book listed on A reporter called, and he answered a few questions. Media attention snowballed, and Salinger never contacted Lathbury again. With unsettled details, their contract's time limit passed, and Lathbury lost the book, leaving him with "the die used to stamp the cockeyed spine printing" and "a stack of wonderful, kind letters from a man who has meant as much to readers as any writer ever can." (More JD Salinger stories.)

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