Hapworth 16, 1924
"Hapworth 16, 1924" is the "youngest" of J. D. Salinger's Glass family stories, in the sense that the narrated events happen chronologically before those in the rest of the "Glass series". It appeared in the June 19, 1965 edition of The New Yorker—infamously taking up almost the entire magazine—and was the last of Salinger's works to be published in his lifetime. It was harshly panned by both contemporary and later literary critics, with even kind critics regarding the work as "a long-winded sob story" which many have found to be "simply unreadable," and, it has been speculated, this negative response was the reason Salinger decided to quit publishing. Conversely, Salinger is said to have considered the story a "high point of his writing" and made tentative steps to have it reprinted; nonetheless, these efforts came to nothing.
The story is presented in the form of a letter from camp written by a seven-year-old Seymour Glass (the main character of "A Perfect Day for Bananafish"). In this respect, the plot is identical to Salinger's previous but unpublished story "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," written some two decades earlier. In the course of requesting a veritable library of reading matter from home, Seymour predicts his brother's success as a writer as well as his own death and condemns the ironic "twist" endings in the stories of Anatole France, twist endings being an early Salinger device.
After the story's appearance in The New Yorker, Salinger—who had already withdrawn to his home in New Hampshire—stopped publishing altogether. Since he never put the story between hard covers, readers had to seek out a copy of that issue or find it on microfilm. Finally, with the release of The Complete New Yorker on DVD in 2005, the story was once again widely available.
In the meantime, however, in 1996, Orchises Press, a small publishing house in Virginia, started the process to publish "Hapworth" in book form. In an article in The Washington Post, published after Salinger's death, and in a story for New York, Orchises Press owner Roger Lathbury described his efforts to publish the story. According to Lathbury, Salinger was deeply concerned with the proposed book's appearance, even visiting Washington to examine the cloth for the binding. Salinger also sent Lathbury numerous "infectious and delightful and loving" letters.
Lathbury, following publishing norms, applied for Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data, unaware of how publicly available the information would be. A writer in Seattle, researching an article on Jeff Bezos, the founder of the then-fledgling Amazon.com, came across the "Hapworth" publication date, told his sister, a journalist for the Washington Business Journal, who wrote an article about the upcoming book. This led to substantial coverage in the press. Shortly before the books were to be shipped, Salinger changed his mind, and in accordance with his wishes, Orchises withdrew the work. Although new publication dates were repeatedly announced, the book never appeared. Lathbury said, "I never reached back out. I thought about writing some letters, but it wouldn't have done any good."
- French (1986), pp. 110-112
- Lathbury (2010)
- Shapira (2010)
- Lundegaard (2010)
- Lundegaard (1996)
- Noah (2000)
- French, Warren (1988). J. D. Salinger, Revisted. Boston, Massachusetts: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-7522-6.
- Lathbury, Roger "Betraying Salinger", New York, April 4, 2010. Retrieved on May 22, 2010.
- Lundegaard, Karen M. (2010) "J. D. Salinger resurfaces ... in Alexandria?", Washington Business Journal, November 15, 1996. Retrieved on August 13, 2008.
- Lundegaard, Erik (1996) Three Stories with J. D. Salinger
- Noah, Timothy. "Hapworth 16, 1924: A Chatterbox Investigation", Slate, September 11, 2000. Retrieved on August 10, 2008.
- Shapira, Ian (January 29, 2010). "Publisher Roger Lathbury recalls book deal with J. D. Salinger that went sour". Washington Post.
- Abstract at The New Yorker site
- Still Paging Mr. Salinger at The New York Times
- "Hapworth 16, 1924" Revisited at The Satirist: America's Most Critical Journal