How the chance to publish J.D. Salinger’s final work was bungled.

Two weeks later, a large envelope arrived. It had been addressed on a Royal manual typewriter, the same as the 1988 note. Inside was a full-page letter, and it took my breath away. Chatty, personal, with that rare sweet and endearing tone that characterizes the story I wanted to publish, it expressed Salinger’s high pleasure in finding a way to put out Hapworth. He proposed a meeting. Just by chance (could this be true?), he would soon be close to Washington, D.C. Might we have lunch?

Later that week, I was in my office and the phone rang. “Mr. Lathbury, please.” “That’s me.” “This is Salinger.” I swallowed. “I, um, am glad you called. Thank you for your letter.”

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