My Salinger Year (Paperback)
This was one of the first books I read after graduating college. A scrappy memoir that’s a joy to live vicariously through, Rakoff invites you into her crumbling Brooklyn apartment – where she dreams of becoming a renowned poet, and the heater is as helpful as her ranting, preoccupied boyfriend. She finds a job at a literary agency as the office assistant to J. D. Salinger’s agent. The systems are outdated and the work is menial, but change comes tumbling through and Rakoff is there soaking it all in. For the reader who is figuring out their place in the world, or anyone who likes the literary New York scene.— Brynn
This was one of the first books I read after graduating college. A scrappy memoir that’s a joy to live vicariously through, Rakoff invites you into her crumbling Brooklyn apartment – where she dreams of becoming a renowned poet, and the heater is as helpful as her ranting, preoccupied boyfriend. She finds a job at a literary agency as the office assistant to J. D. Salinger’s agent. The systems are outdated and the work is menial, but change comes tumbling through and Rakoff is there soaking it all in. For the reader who is figuring out their place in the world, or anyone who likes the literary New York scene.— From Brynn
Keenly observed and irresistibly funny, My Salinger Year is a memoir about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing.
After leaving graduate school to pursue her dream of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. Precariously balanced between poverty and glamour, she spends her days in a plush, wood-paneled office—where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and agents doze after three-martini lunches—and then goes home to her threadbare Brooklyn apartment and her socialist boyfriend. Rakoff is tasked with processing Salinger’s voluminous fan mail, but as she reads the heart-wrenching letters from around the world, she becomes reluctant to send the agency’s form response and impulsively begins writing back. The results are both humorous and moving, as Rakoff, while acting as the great writer’s voice, begins to discover her own.
About the Author
Joanna Rakoff’s novel A Fortunate Age won the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers and the Elle Readers’ Prize, and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a San Francisco Chronicle best seller. She has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, and other publications. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“A beautifully written tribute to the way things were at the edge of the digital revolution, and to the evergreen power of literature.” —Chicago Tribune
“An affecting coming-of-age memoir. . . . Rakoff wisely—and deftly—weaves her Salinger story into a broader, more universal tale about finding one’s bearings during a pivotal transitional year into real adulthood.” —The Washington Post
“Charming. . . . Glamorous. . . . Rakoff does a marvelous job of capturing a cultural moment. . . . What is most admirable is [her] critical intelligence and generosity of spirit.” —The Boston Globe
“The loneliness of life after college [is] perfectly explained . . . There’s something Salingeresque about her book: it’s a vivid story of innocence lost.” —Entertainment Weekly
“My Salinger Year describes its author’s trip down a metaphorical rabbit hole back in 1996. She arrived not in Wonderland, but a place something like it, a New York City firm she calls only the Agency. . . . An outright tribute to the enduring power of J.D. Salinger’s work.” —Salon
“A breezy memoir of being a ‘bright young assistant’ in the mid-1990s . . . Salinger himself makes a cameo appearance. . . . The ‘archaic charms’ of the Agency are comically offset by its refusal to acknowledge the Internet age.” —The New York Times Book Review
“While it may be the Salinger cameo that initially draws readers in, it’s Rakoff’s effortlessly elegant, unhyperbolic prose and poignant coming-of-age story that will keep them engrossed through the very last word.” —BookPage
“Moving. . . . Heartfelt. . . . Rakoff uses Salinger—his fan mail and her favorite character, Franny—to help illuminate her inner life. . . . The memoir is touching, and it’s easy to empathize with how Rakoff, like Franny, is ‘trying to figure out how to live in this world.’” —USA Today
“Gentle, funny, closely observed. . . . The special unworldliness of the young literary person, who has reached adulthood without ever knowing or caring much about how the world works, is the real subject of My Salinger Year.” —Tablet Magazine
“Gripping and funny. . . . An involving, evocative tale that will have bookish women everywhere shuddering in recognition. Like Rona Jaffe’s novel of the 50s, The Best of Everything, it is concerned with what it feels like to move to the big city, to take on your first job, and to struggle to survive on a tiny salary when all the while your dreams are seemingly being snuffed out at every turn, and your love life is spiraling into muddle and mayhem. . . . So raw and so true.” —The Guardian
“Hard to put down. . . . Demands sympathy, admiration, and attention. . . . Irresistible.” —The Sunday Times
“Intimate . . . elegant . . . graceful.” —The Sunday Telegraph
“As memoirs go, this is possibly one of the year’s funniest, enthralling and entertaining . . . For an insight into old-fashioned publishing this must be hard to beat. Everyone smokes, returns tiddly from boozy lunches, and authors are treated with respect. It knocks spots off The Devil Wears Prada.” —The Sydney Morning Herald
“Lures you in. . . . A story about growing up and getting better in a rapidly changing industry and world.” —Flavorwire, “June 2014 Books You Must Read”