Woman with only known recording of J.D. Salinger's voice to have tape burned

J.D. Salinger
J.D. Salinger Holly Ramer / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The potentially last chance to hear J.D. Salinger's voice on tape is set to go up in smoke, according to the woman who recorded him.

Betty Eppes is in possession of the "only known recording" of author J.D. Salinger's voice, but she is promising to never release it and has even updated her will to say it will "be placed, along with her body, in the crematorium," Bloomberg reports.

Eppes was a reporter for the Baton Rouge Advocate in 1980 when she managed to land an interview with the famously reclusive Catcher in the Rye author, who at that point hadn't given one in nearly three decades. But as Bloomberg explains, Eppes described herself to him as a novelist, not a journalist, and she didn't tell him she would be taping their conversation using a recorder she had hidden in her sleeve.

She came away with a nearly half-hour tape, which is now apparently the only recording of Salinger in existence. But it's been locked away in a safety deposit box for years, and Eppes never plans to release it, citing her regrets over how she obtained the recording. She has reportedly turned down several offers for the tape over the years; one "interested foreign party" was ready to pay $500,000.

"In the years after I did that, I came to regret it, terribly, terribly," Eppes told Bloomberg. "I have spent many, many, many, many hours a day thinking about this. And, of course, it means an awful lot to me. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and I think, 'I stole that. I stole his voice.' You know that's like stealing somebody's soul, right? That tape is not mine to give or sell."

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