How well I remember that morning or afternoon…
I suppose I’m doing the same thing a lot of journalists are doing today, dusting off my J.D. Salinger interview.
When I went knocking on his door to chat with him so many years ago, he told me what he told everybody else: “Bob, I’ll talk to you, but you can only write about it when I’m gone.”
That was our pact, and I kept it until the reclusive writer died this week at his home in New Hampshire.
Once I agreed to his terms he invited me in, made some Tang, and it was yakety-yak, all afternoon.
I could barely shut him up and get away when my reporting shift was over that day, but heck, I wasn’t going to work past 5 p.m., not for anybody.
I still remember sitting in that vibrating easy chair in Salinger’s TV room. I hadn’t read any of his stuff, but my yellowing Reporter’s Notebook shows that my opening question was: “‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is the best baseball book ever written. Will it be a movie?”
We went on from there to discuss Salinger’s passion for roller coasters and Heckle and Jeckle cartoons, his distrust of Dutch people, and his firm belief that one day Ronald Reagan would be president. Of course he already was, so that wasn’t such a stretch.
As I was leaving, he thrust a bundle of his unpublished manuscripts into my hand and said, “When you get a chance, let me know what you think of ‘em.” They’re still around here somewhere, I saw them just the other day.
The bidding starts in the COMMENTS section of this blog. Raise high the advance check, publishers!
Top: cover, “Catcher in the Rye”
Bottom: One of a collection of 32 letters written by author J.D. Salinger to his daughter Margaret over a period of 35 years beginning in 1958.