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My Salinger Year | [Joanna Rakoff]

My Salinger Year

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. 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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

©2014 Joanna Rakoff (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

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  •  
    marla 05-22-15
    marla 05-22-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good story great performance"

    Not sure why I bought this. haven't read salinger. but I really liked it. I liked getting to know the author. I liked that it was so real. usually I dont like books read by the author but I really liked her voice. it felt like this is someone I would like to know. I guess salinger felt the same way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KSH 02-13-15
    KSH 02-13-15
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    "I wanted to like this more than I did"

    I wanted to like this. But I found it whine-y. I did stick with it to the end, so gave it 2 stars rather than only 1 star.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith 06-10-14
    Keith 06-10-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Complete boredom!"
    Would you try another book from Joanna Rakoff and/or Joanna Rakoff?

    No way.


    Has My Salinger Year turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes. The author/narrator too.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Over dramatization of a year full of non events.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Glad it's over. I hung in waiting for the story to develop but ...

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful

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