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My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
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My Salinger Year

by Joanna Rakoff

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Dictaphones and typewriters in 1996? After graduate school, Joanna takes a job as an assistant to the literary agent who represents J.D. Salinger. The office appears stuck in the 1950s, despite the introduction of computers and email to the rest of the world. Joanna's duties include typing out a generic form letter to Salinger's fans, since Salinger will not even accept fan mail. She soon finds herself compelled to write back herself, even ditching the generic form letter for something more personal. This is a lovely memoir about a writer discovering her identity, with a little help from J.D. Salinger.

Kathleen K. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.

( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
Mildly amusing, mildly entertaining, mildly well written. ( )
  kimkimkim | Aug 21, 2017 |
(25 December 2015 – from Bridget)

A surprise gift that I didn’t know I wanted, this turned out to be a very interesting read. It’s a memoir of a year spent working at the agency that represented J.D. Salinger. Set in 1996, the details of clothes and office life are fascinating (I’ve just realised that I must be the same age as the author and was doing the same kind of temp office work while working out what to do with my life (and saving up to go to library school) at the same time!), even without the interest of it being set in a literary agency. Not quite in the computer age, they use typewriters for everything (I remember having to type invoices with carbon paper at this time!) and Joanna has trouble breaking out of secretarial mode.

A coming of age story more than anything, and you can feel for the protagonists, but it might make more sense reading it if you were their age – much like “Catcher in the Rye”, of course. The parts where she raves about Salinger’s work when she finally gets round to reading it felt a bit unnecessary, and the workarounds to maintain the anonymity of the agency and her boss (odd, as surely a quick Google would find this out) are a bit clunky, but it was nicely written and edited and I appreciated the epilogue bringing us up to date. ( )
1 vote LyzzyBee | Oct 28, 2016 |
" the beauty of this memoir, it is so intensely relatable."
read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.gr/2016/05/my-salinger-year-joanna-rakoff.html ( )
  mongoosenamedt | May 7, 2016 |
Very enjoyable read, particularly for anyone interested in literature and the publishing world. The book is well-paced until the very last chapter, where the loose ends are tied up too quickly. By that point, I was interested in her unnamed "college boyfriend" and the narrative became confusing when she said she'd married someone else and had children. Why was that mentioned in one sentence? It should have either been more thoroughly explained or left unmentioned. Fortunately, that is a small complaint and does not stop me from recommending the book. ( )
  Mon_Ro | Mar 13, 2016 |
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There were hundreds of us, thousands of us, carefully dressing in the gray morning light of Brooklyn, Queens, the Lower East Side, leaving our apartments weighed down by tote bags heavy with manuscripts, which we read as we stood in line at the Polish bakery, the Greek deli, the corner diner, waiting to order our coffee, light and sweet, and our Danish, to take on the train, where we would hope for a seat so that we might read more before we arrived in our offices in midtown, Soho, Union Square.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307958000, Hardcover)

Poignant, keenly observed, and irresistible: 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 swept into one of the last great stories and 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 of J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-paneled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still prevail and old-time agents doze at their desks in the late afternoon, and 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 talent, Joanna is tasked with responding to Salinger's voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the deeply candid letters from his fans, she finds herself abandoning the agency's form letter and writing her own responses. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger's, on her own dangerous and wonderful terms.

Joanna Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright, hungry young woman moving through a heady and much-longed for world, trying to square romantic aspirations with burgeoning self-awareness, the idea of a life with life itself. My Salinger Year is a graceful, deeply moving literary fairytale and the coming-of-age story of a talented young writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:19 -0400)

"At twenty-three, 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" --… (more)

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