My Salinger Year

My Salinger Year

Hardback

By (author) Joanna Smith Rakoff

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Hardback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 216mm x 28mm | 406g
  • Publication date: 5 June 2014
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1408830175
  • ISBN 13: 9781408830178
  • Sales rank: 155,921

Product description

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 the plush, wood-panelled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Brooklyn apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities and struggling to trust her own artistic sense, Joanna is given the task of 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. Poignant, keenly observed and irresistibly funny, My Salinger Year is a memoir about literary New York in the late 1990s, 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. Above all, it is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer and a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives.

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Author information

Joanna Rakoff is a poet and the author of the novel A Fortunate Age, which won the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers, was a New York Times Editors' Pick, a winner of the Elle Readers' Prize and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. As a journalist and critic, she has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Time Out and O:The Oprah Magazine. The BBC produced a radio documentary following her as she tracked down the writer of her favourite Salinger fan letter. She has degrees from Columbia University, University College London and Oberlin College. Joanna Rakoff lives in Boston. www.joannasmithrakoff.com

Review quote

Here is the story of a reader becoming a writer, of a young woman deciding who she will be, of the power of books. Here is a memoir that manages to be dreamlike but sharp, poignant but unsentimental. Here is a book I'm going to have to insist you read immediately Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements Joanna Rakoff is the literary world's Lena Dunham, both of them witty, sensitive, elegantly baffled, zeitgeist-hitting Brooklyn ladies of their respective half-generations Sheila Weller, author of the New York Times bestseller, Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon-and the Journey of a Generation This is an impossibly excellent read-a glowingly entertaining, miss-your-subway-stop engrossing, note-perfect piece of storytelling Charles Bock, author of New York Times bestseller, Beautiful Children An utterly beguiling memoir, not only about Salinger and a bygone era of publishing, but about relationships, finding one's voice, and surviving in the big city -- Caroline Sanderson Bookseller A warm, witty, occasionally sly piece of storytelling ... An affectionate love letter to a first job in an industry that in just 20 years has changed beyond recognition -- Sam Baker Harper's Bazaar My Salinger Year's reference points, from the Brooklyn brownstones to the Danish pastries wolfed on the number 6 train to 51st Street, are all American, but the emotional landscape it conjures up will be just as true for readers on this side of the pond. Anyone who has struggled to find their bearings as an unworldly young adult will be deeply moved by it - I certainly was -- Emma Hughes Country Life This book is hard to put down. irresistible -- Lucy Atkins Sunday Times Like a literary The Devil Wears Prada . an irresistible read Harper's Bazaar Anyone who has ever dreamed of a life in books will find much to love in Joanna Rakoff's memoir ... Funny and knowing, it's both an idiosyncratic tribute to Salinger's writing and an affirmation of the power of books to spark tectonic human connections Metro Extraordinary ... Gripping and funny ... My Salinger Year is a treat even Jerry might have enjoyed -- Rachel Cooke Observer An elegant memoir -- Jane Shilling Sunday Telegraph In prose that is clear, precise and evocative, Rakoff renders her people and places touchably real -- Hannah McGill Independent This is a funny, delightful, coming-of-age memoir that completely caught me off guard. So absorbing is it that I devoured the whole thing in one sitting Woman & Home A charming coming-of-age memoir that fizzes with youthful energy and bookish insight Good Housekeeping Spellbinding . You don't have to be a Salinger fan to fall under Rakoff's spell; I'm not and I did -- Laura Miller Guardian Poignant and witty Company Magazine Elegantly written, wryly observed, Rakoff's memoir is a high-quality literary snack Financial Times This is a book for book lovers; not just those who love stories, but those fascinated with peeking "behind the curtain" . A magnificent portrait of a fascinating year; a pleasure to read Irish Examiner Rakoff's raw, honest descriptions of her life in Brooklyn and her loser boyfriend turn this book into a coming of age tale, as Catcher is. But My Salinger Year is more than just a snapshot of a particular time and place. The most powerful and original parts of the book describe the intimate relationships Rakoff establishes with the readers through their letters and explore her theory that ultimately writing is an anatomy of loss Literary Review