Only Known Recording of JD Salinger Will Be Burned

Woman who secretly made it plans to be cremated with tape
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2021 2:00 PM CDT
Only Known Recording of JD Salinger Will Be Burned
A photo of author J.D. Salinger is displayed at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., in 2019.   (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)

Only one recording of JD Salinger is known to exist, but its days are numbered. In an interview with Bloomberg, the woman who made the secret tape more than four decades ago says she plans to have it cremated with her when she dies. Bette Eppes, then a 40-year-old reporter with the Baton Rouge Advocate, scored the 1980 interview when she traveled to Salinger's New Hampshire town and invited him to meet her at a local shop via a note slipped to a clerk at his post office. Much to her surprise, the reclusive author showed up. What Eppes didn't mention was that she had a tape recorder hidden in her sleeve, even though she had promised Salinger she would respect his privacy.

They spoke for about a half-hour. She asked him questions such as whether Holden Caulfield, hero of Catcher in the Rye, would ever grow up. "It's all in the book," he responded. (Eppes wrote about this decades ago in the Paris Review, for which a subscription is needed). After their talk, Eppes put the tape in safety deposit box and says she has turned down lucrative offers to sell it—because of guilt. “Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and I think, ‘I stole that. I stole his voice.’ ... That tape is not mine to give or sell." Read the full interview, in which she informs Brin-Jonathan Butler that she recently amended her will to include instructions for the tape to be cremated with her. (Read more JD Salinger stories.)

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