Rare Salinger Story Turns Up on New DVD
J.D. Salinger and his literary agent either signed away some important rights, or they just don't get it.
Salinger's 25,000-word short story is included in the new DVD box set of The New Yorker's back issues, which covers the magazine's entire run from Day One through this past February.
"Hapworth 16, 1924" was published by The New Yorker in 1965 and quickly became a collector's item. It was the last piece of work the magazine carried by the infamously reclusive writer, most of whose stories first appeared in The New Yorker.
In 1997, Orchises Press announced that it had made a deal with Salinger to publish "Hapworth" in book form.
I remember the long conversations I had with Roger Lathbury, who owned the press. He'd bought the paper, and was ready to start the print run, when Salinger pulled the plug.
No explanation was ever given. For a while, Amazon.com kept listing the book as available for advance sale. But now it's gone.
The New Yorker DVD set costs $100 and covers everything published in the magazine. Of course, some things are missing. People who've purchased the eight DVDs have complained that several issues from 1989 are inexplicably gone. There's also an issue from 1947 that is not included.
But "Hapworth" is there, from the issue dated June 19, 1965. Also included is the original story that became "The Catcher in the Rye" but never appeared on its own. "Slight Rebellion Off Madison" appeared in the New Yorker issue dated Dec. 22, 1946.
Of course, for Internet-savvy types, this is all a moot point. To my astonishment, all of Salinger's rare and uncollected works are available in their entirety on at least two easy-to-find Web sites. How Salinger's representatives have allowed that to go on is really a mystery.
But The New Yorker DVD set brings up a lot of intellectual-property issues. Certainly, the magazine never could have foreseen that it might have to seek republication rights from authors prior to, say, the early '90s.
Alex Beam of the Boston Globe obviously has been thinking the same thing. He published a piece in yesterday's Globe that explained the fundamental loophole here: As long as the DVDs reproduce the back issues exactly as they were, The New Yorker is in the clear.
And so you will find each issue reproduced exactly. You can't download the material and republish it yourself. At least, not easily.
But at least for the moment, $100 will get you more than just eight DVDs and the New Yorker's archives. There are undoubtedly other rare gems in the collection.
But getting the two Salinger stories (not to mention the original versions of "Franny" and "Zooey," which were later combined into one book, and the stories that became the "Nine Stories" collection) is an unexpected boon.
Maybe you missed yesterday's incendiary column by Cindy Adams in the New York Post.
As usual, Cindy hits a home run. She revealed that Thomas Kempner, widower of socialite and "social X-ray" Nan Kempner, is planning on marrying his mistress soon.
Nan Kempner died on July 4. Her memorial service was only last week. I mean, wow!
Of course, nothing that Tom Kempner does surprises me. I wrote a story in New York magazine back in 1994 about a previous mistress, Iris Sawyer.
For a short time at the end of their eight-year affair, Kempner lived with Sawyer. Nan Kempner threatened to take him to the cleaners, so Tom returned.
Iris Sawyer was ruined — I mean ruined — in every way. She lost all her money. She lost her home. Nan Kempner made sure over the years that Sawyer had no means of support. It is a tragic story.
But here's Cindy, with the real stuff on Tommy Kempner. Many people in the society world wondered why almost no paid obituaries appeared in the New York Times after Nan died, considering her immense charitable work.
Usually there are columns and columns from museums, hospitals, etc., when someone of Nan Kempner's prominence in the social fund-raising world dies.
Iris Sawyer always thought Nan Kempner was the puppet master in that couple. Alas, she may have been completely wrong about who wore the pants after all.
And one juicy P.S. to this story: There's another high-profile widower gallivanting all over town. His wife of a lifetime has been dead only a few months. Now this guy is planning to remarry, and quickly.
If his fans knew his marital history as it is now being revealed, our widower's nickname, as well as his legacy, might be quite different. And the wife, you know, was beloved. Who knew what she endured?
Still getting reaction to our story from yesterday's column about Lava Records founder Jason Flom taking over Virgin Records.
Flom is a popular player in a business run by fear and loathing. His ascent to the top of Virgin is welcomed all the way around.
Watch for this news today or tomorrow, prior to the T.J. Martell Foundation dinner. Our friends at hitsdailydouble.com are contemplating that Virgin's current chief, Matt Serletic, will stick around.
It's unlikely. Serletic will probably be undone by his company's inability to get the Rolling Stones' single "Rough Justice" played on the radio, except in a few small markets. Rough justice, indeed.