Before we started talking about JR in Rick Moody’s class, he told us a fantastic Gaddis story.
When Rick was working at Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the 90s, Gaddis sent out the manuscript for A Frolic of His Own via FedEx. Well, at least he tried to. Days passed, then weeks, and still the pages hadn’t shown. FedEx lost it. It was the only extant copy.
The President of FSG called the President of FedEx. The Publishing President reminded the Shipping President of the millions of dollars per year they spend on moving paper around the world, and threatened to take their millions elsewhere if they couldn’t find these particular pages. (Probably at least 750 or 800 pages, since the hardcover was something around 600 (Also, I like the fact that the lost manuscript was called A Frolic of His Own because I like the idea that this title had to be repeated from President to Forklift Operator a hundred thousand times. “Have you found this Frolic book?”“Not yet sir, and we’ve scoured the warehouses.”“Damnit, Robinson, find me Frolic!”)).
Frolic was eventually found. It arrived in the FSG offices battered, boot-imprinted, shuffled around, with those X-shaped rubber bands holding it together.
Every page was there. Except for the last one. Gaddis had to rewrite it from memory.