Poignant, keenly observed, and irresistibly funny: a memoir about literary New York in the late 90s, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century.
At 23, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in a plush, wood-paneled office, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches. At night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Williamsburg apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger’s, on her own dangerous and liberating terms.
Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright, hungry young woman navigating a heady and longed-for world, trying to square romantic aspirations with burgeoning self-awareness, the idea of a life with life itself. Charming and deeply moving, filled with electrifying glimpses of an American literary icon, My Salinger Year is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer. Above all, it is a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives and awaken our true selves.
Editors Select, June 2014 - Joanna Rakoff's memoir My Salinger Year is the kind of book that book lovers will embrace wholeheartedly. In the mid-90’s, Rakoff leaves graduate school in London and finds an ill-paid job at a dusty New York literary agency that just happens to represent the world's most sought-after recluse, J.D. Salinger. She learns to use an old-fashioned Dictaphone and a typewriter (the agency scorns technology), and never, ever to pass on to "Jerry" any of the thousands of letters that arrive for him. Having not read anything by Salinger herself, it is through these letters that Rakoff falls under the spell—becoming infatuated with the fans as much as with the author. It’s like being transported back in time to both the '60s and '90s simultaneously. Rakoff is witness to an era long-gone while in the office, and struggles with the typical stresses of bad boyfriends and bad Brooklyn apartments shared by the masses of 20-somethings who flock to New York in search of a life. My Salinger Year is both a poignant and personal coming-of-age story and a love letter to books and the literary life. I look forward to listening to the author narrate this gem of a memoir herself. Tricia, Audible Editor
"Rakoff's story of her time at the agency that represents Salinger and other notable authors is fascinating for its names and its intrigues." (AudioFile)
We've sent an email with your order details. Order ID #:
To access this title, visit your library in the app or on the desktop website.
My Salinger Year
Wonderful and thought-provoking
- D. Bailey