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10 thoughts on “My Salinger Year

  1. Julie Christine Julie Christine says:

    If I had a category for Most Charming Read of the Year there would be one entrant for 2014 My Salinger Year Joanna Rakoff’s blithe memoir of her tenure at the Agency the arch moniker she gives to Harold Ober Associates—one of Manhattan’s most venerable literary agencies I know I know the year still has many months and reads ahead but I’m calling this one right now My Salinger Year shimmers with Wilt Stillman Bright Young Things and it's imbued with a Woody Allenesue patina that warms the city’s brownstones until they glow with autumn light or sparkle with the diamonds of freshly fallen snow The year is 1996 and Rakoff fresh from completing a Master’s degree in English in the UK needs a job She really doesn’t need a boyfriend but she finds lover and employment in uick succession The latter becomes her entrée into the New York literary scene The former a struggling novelist informs her emotional and artistic development and breaks her heart times than he's worth Which is as it happens not much Although the coming revolution of digital publishing and e readers is a mere ten years away the Agency doesn’t possess a single computer and has only recently acuired a photocopier Rakoff hired as an assistant to the Agency’s president—to whom she refers only as “my boss”—types dictation on an IBM Selectric Dictaphone headphones planted on her head her feet working the Dictaphone pedals beneath the desk Correspondence is done via the postal service There are telephones of course but no one has voicemail If anyone calls after hours the office phones simply ring and ring echoing down the dimly lit hallways lined with plush carpet Enter Jerry the Agency's most celebrated client And if the Agency's president doesn't step up her game he might be the last client standing Delivering a breathless scene with a comic's sense of timing Rakoff meets another famous client Judy Blume Just the one time Judy along with a steady stream of other writers uits the Agency to seek representation where the 21st century is acknowledged as a done deal Jerry is of course JD Salinger A writer whom Joanna Rakoff budding writer herself has never read Jerry hard of hearing reclusive and endearing has expressed interest in having his long short story Hapworth 16 1924—which first appeared in The New Yorker in 1965— published as a novel by a tiny press in Virginia For eight months Rakoff resists reading Salinger certain his lionized status is hyperbole and his writing trite But she becomes immediately fascinated by the enormous volume of fan mail the author continues to receive thirty years after his last publication It is her job to inform each correspondent that the Agency per Mr Salinger's directions cannot forward the letter to the author or respond to any reuests When she finally does read Salinger it is in a revelatory binge That weekend of Salinger sets the tone for the brief time that she remains at the Agency but it also leads her to finding her writing voice The interactions with JD Salinger and the near farcical subplot of the reissue of Hapworth ground the story in the disappearing age of traditional publishing when a few elite readers determined what the rest of us would be checking out from our public libraries or purchasing from the rapidly vanishing independent bookstores or once were giants Borders and Barnes Noble But at its tender heart My Salinger Year is the coming of age tale of a young woman and writer and an ode to being young and sort of single in New York living in an unheated apartment in Williamsburg and taking the subway to Madison Avenue to talk in plummy tweedy tones with other underpaid literati It is a gloriously unabashedly nostalgic memoir and yes utterly charming Rakoff's writing is breezy and self effacing completely in character with the twenty three year old woman who recounts this seminal year Only an accomplished and confident writer could manage to sustain that tone with authenticity Joanna Rakoff enchants readers with an elegant memoir that reads like a curl up with a cuppa novel She's just won a new admirer

  2. Helene Jeppesen Helene Jeppesen says:

    I'm rating this book 5 stars well aware that this book is not for everyone which actually makes it a weird 5 stars for me It is a very simple book and I'm sure that not everyone is going to love its simplicity as much as I did However I always review books based on how I personally feel about them and this one was perfection in my eyes This is a fictional piece of work based on facts It's about Joanna Rakoff who as a 24 year old obtains a job in New York at a literary agency With time she realizes that this agency covers the infamous J D Salinger and with time Rakoff gets and into his works and his life while she gradually learns about the publishing world and writing booksAs I said this story is very simple It appealed to me nevertheless because I'm a huge fan of The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger and this book gave me a lot of information on that book as well as on Salinger's life and personality This information mingles with Rakoff's own life in a magical way I can't really explain and it's based on the truth This book allowed for me to revisit Salinger's universe but with a different set of reading glasses Everything is told from Rakoff's perspective and it becomes a book both about Salinger but also about Rakoff's own life insecurities and her growing up I can't really explain it much better even though this review probably leaves much to wish for I recommend this book to anyone who has a love for J D Salinger and for those of you who have yet to read any of his works maybe this book will inspire you to actually pick up a book of his and maybe hopefully cherish him as much as I do

  3. Edan Edan says:

    Vivid precise utterly absorbing I was reading this as I made my son scrambled eggs this morningI could not tear myself away I loved the descriptions of the venerable agency's refusal to enter the digital age; I loved Joanna's vulnerability and youth; I love the descriptions of New York in the 1990s; I loved her awful fake Communist arrogant boyfriend; I love imagining a boss smoking cigarettes in her large office; I love the way Salinger is at the edges of Joanna's story and also central to it in this very sly and meaningful way It made me want to revisit his workAn assured thoughtful fun and touching read

  4. Diane S ☔ Diane S ☔ says:

    A fun and light hearted read about Joanna who leaves her degree program and her college boyfriend and finds a job with a literary agent Simply called The Agency this is the agency that represents Salinger Although she expects to find herself busy reading manuscripts she instead finds herself typing letters on a typewriter and answering phones Although this is the mid nineties the office or least her boss defies technological advances in favor of the archaic way the agency has always run It is amusing to read how delighted they are when a copier is finally delivered and they no longer need to use carbon paperShe also finds and moves in with a new boyfriend a pseudo intellectual trying to write his own novel I call him the worm and that is a generous labelI enjoyed reading about the workings behind the scenes interplay between agents and writers Eventually Joanna is given the letters written to Salinger by fans and told to send them a form letter in reply Joanna will soon take I upon herself to do than that Salinger does make a brief appearance but most of what we learn about him are from those letters and the phone calls he makes to her boosA good easy read about a young girls foray into adulthood first job a apartment in Williamsburg her relationships her successes and failures Does she eventually rid of the worm? Well

  5. Emily Emily says:

    Much to my surprise I loved this book It captures what it's like to be young and directionless in New York so well Granted I never lived in Brooklyn with my faux Communist boyfriend or walked in on a roommate shooting up and I've only been to one NYC party that could have been featured on Girls but somehow I really connected with Joanna and was completely drawn into her storyThe best memoirs read like novels and that's true of this book too I loved the writing and the narrative how you can put a year of your life into a coherent narrative is beyond me I loved the Salinger letters and the fact that this isn't really about Salinger at all I loved Joanna's awful apartment Don's friends Don's novel The only thing I didn't love about this was the ending it somehow seemed rushed and too compact and view spoilerI wanted closure with Don hide spoiler

  6. Kim G Kim G says:

    You've read this book before Twenty something girl from a privileged background with an expensive but mostly useless private school degree heads off to the Big Bad Apple where she struggles with performing the basic functions of her practically unpaid but oh so glamorous job realizing that her shitty boyfriend is shitty and ruining her fancy shoes on the cold hard streets As it happens this girl got to talk to JD Salinger a few times which would have been interesting if of the book was actually about dear Jerry and less about the sandwiches Rakoff had for lunch in the mid 90s And even the sandwiches were mostly disappointing Sigh

  7. Xueting Xueting says:

    A love letter to literature and New York clear and candid self exploration funny and moving at the same time This memoir is really special to me It may not be the page turning stay up all night to finish story but Joanna Rakoff's writing draws me into her world in a rare soothing way like how cuddling up with a blanket in front of a fireplace during a New York winter would be like Although I've never experienced either winter at home a fireplace warmth or even New York But I'm pretty sure Joanna Rakoff's memoir embodies that Lately I'd been coming in earlier and earlier to bask in the cool uiet of the office Sometimes I caught up on work Sometimes I just sat at my desk and read drinking coffee and slowly unpeeling a sticky bun from the ersatz Italian market in Grand Central Sometimes I worked on poems typing them up on my SelectricAnyone who knows me well knows I have been dreaming of becoming a writer since I could read my first book A job in the literary industry whether a publishing or an agency one like Rakoff's sounds like the dream job for me while I practice my writing It's so exciting and I'd get to make a lot of excellent connections Unsurprisingly then Rakoff's experience paints a lovely picture of such a job and I want it even But we both know that we want and definitely for her and hopefully for me are meant for I love that she doesn't view her job as the job from hell so many of such 'personal assistant office job' novels and movies like The Devil Wears Prada make it seem like these jobs can only be a nightmare or at least only entertaining as a nightmare Rakoff reminds us that there's a uiet focused rhythm in an office establishing friendly special connections with the same few people you know well every day On Bedford Avenue other people like me young men and women in retro office wear heading to jobs at film production companies and graphic design firms and recording studios were sleepily converging on the sidewalk blinking beneath their Navy safety glasses and round schoolboy frames messenger bags slung across their chestsShe creates a beautiful New York with its people intimately connected wordlessly crossing paths in an almost surreal way in their daily habitual activities Rakoff writes colourful interesting characters too especially her boss I can't stand Don on countless occasions but he's definitely portrayed uniuely and I don't sense any bitterness from Rakoff towards him in retrospect despite the way he treats her which allows us readers to form our own impressions And can she write some food blog or something because this???? A moment later my gyoza arrived lightly charred their green skins glistening with oil and though I knew the dumplings were too hot I pulled one off the neat row biting into it Hot oil and broth spurted everywhere and my eyes watered all over again For days afterward the rood of my mouth prickled with pain but for a moment I relished the burningthis is just one of the few I can find right now that's shorterMost of all I love how she honestly explores her actions and feelings so curiously it's like she's learning about herself at the same time we do Sometimes when it's subtle and mysteriously vague I feel that she's not trying to be pretentious or smugly smart but she's revealing all that she feels without picking at them with analysis for a moment I thought I knew my heart beating faster that I was going to trip and fall down that small flight of stairs the world around me rotating but then I simply laid my hand on the railing steadied myself and continued downI can't end this review without talking about Salinger Indeed I love Salinger he's one of my favourite authors and though I have many he's definitely special To me he has a constant warm presence throughout this book even when he's not actually mentioned Besides his influence on Rakoff encouraging her to be honest to herself I feel that his mysterious uality complements the uiet and intriguing warmth that makes Rakoff's New York so attractive Like many others have said you don't have to LOOOOVE Salinger to like Rakoff's book Many of the scenes concerning Salinger are so funny I have a hard time imagining him in the way Rakoff describes him but I probably feel that way for every single person whom I admire but have not met I think if you do feel a connection to Salinger you should most definitely read this bookI hope she writes in the future

  8. Ami Ami says:

    My Salinger Year is a book in the vein of The Best of Everything a book ostensibly about publishing that is really about being young and wanting to do something larger than what's available to you but wondering if that is the right decision to make Rakoff's book took me right back to my first few years working in publishing Her descriptions of the time and place are perfect I visited that Williamsburg apartment I know that agent who wouldn't allow computers in the office It all rings incredibly true and beautifully detailed In my descriptions of this book to friends some worried that it really would just be a description of working with JD Salinger It is anything but Recommended for anyone who remembers what it was like to make an assistant's salary and wish for something different

  9. Jill Jill says:

    The very first thing I did upon closing the last page of this excellent book was to go to and wish list Franny and Zooey – a book I’ve been meaning to read for years My Salinger Year made me understand – all over again – why JD Salinger was such a phenomenon”because the experience of reading a Salinger story is less than reading a short story and like having Salinger himself whisper his accounts into your year”But make no mistake this book is not about JD Salinger Not really It’s about Joanna Rakoff but it could be about any young woman straight out of college naïve and wishful striving to get in touch with what’s authentic and what’s realFor Ms Rakoff that means taking a job with sub standard pay at a literary agency called the Agency – although just a little bit of Googling reveals that the Agency is Harold Ober Associates a venerable agency that represented JD Salinger There she worked for Phyllis Westberg referred to as “my boss” who fiercely protected his privacy and his legendYoung Joanna living with her socialist would be writer boyfriend Don in a dumpy Wiliamsburg apartment spends her days on her Selectric and Dictaphoneright at the time when forward thinking agencies have invested in computers One of her tasks is to respond to JD Salinger’s many fervent fans through an Agency form letter; uickly she abandons that practice and surreptiously begins writing her own heartfelt responsesEventually it dawns on us what “My Salinger Year” really means It’s not just a year of spent responding to the voluminous and candid fan mailand sometimes speaking with “Jerry” himself It’s also understanding the ongoing significance of Salinger in her life “To somehow find a way to live in a world that sickens her To be her authentic self To not be the person the world is telling her to be the girl who must bury her intelligencewho must compromise herself in order to live” That’s not just a description of Franny It’s an apt description of Joanna Rakoff Indeed these are sentences that can apply to each of us This is a simply wonderful book a book that’s custom made for every aspiring writer every passionate reader and every dreamer who wants to face the world on her own terms

  10. Blair Blair says:

    35 First of all this is a memoir This might seem like a fairly obvious fact given that the blurb clearly says it's a memoir but somehow until I read the author's introduction I remained convinced that it was at least partly a fictionalised version of reality In a way I was right While it's autobiographical it is written in a very novelistic style My Salinger Year is Joanna Rakoff's account of her first job in a New York publishing agency It's 1996 and the Agency as it is always called with its old fashioned offices boozy lunches and a single computer which all the staff share is stuck in the past in a world that's rapidly moving on However Joanna is caught up in the romantic appeal of the place and it does have one big thing going for it the Agency represents JD Salinger In a year that sees Salinger engage a tiny publishing house to print a new edition of one of his lesser known stories Joanna is tasked with answering his extensive emotion filled backlog of fan mail Writing to impassioned Salinger fans she uickly abandons the Agency's reply by numbers and starts sending personal messages; this act proves to be a kind of catalyst for a further examination of her situation in life friendships and the differences between her and those friends relationship with a rather distant lover and career ambitions All in all this is a coming of age story albeit an unusually literary oneWhen I first read the bit about the letters I half expected this to be a cutesy epistolary story in which Joanna would 'find herself' through her correspondence with the Salinger fans or fall in love with one of them or whatever In fact the letters don't figure as much as the blurb would have you believe and neither does Salinger actually This is a snapshot of one year in someone's life a year which in many ways is uite unremarkable but like all the best memoirs it is written like a piece of fiction with evocative descriptions and sparkling characterisation It's also interesting as a portrayal of life during a transitionary period for the publishing trade; Joanna starts her career at a time when the industry is on the cusp of being radically changed by the advent of the internet and various other technological advancements While it's amusing now to imagine a whole office sharing one primitive PC I found it eually strange when one of Joanna's friends was described as working in a 'paperless office' in 1996 We didn't even have a computer in our house until several years after thatThis being a record of things that happened in real life it can occasionally lack the dramatic resolutions a fiction accustomed reader might crave I longed for Joanna to end her relationship with the increasingly horrible Don to actually confront him about his cheating and sexist opinions to stop supporting his attempts to get published and although she did eventually get rid of him it was anticlimactic and didn't feel at all like he got what he really deserved Certain details bothered me a bit why were Joanna's boss and ex boyfriend always 'my boss' and 'my college boyfriend' while all the other characters had names some of which she says at the beginning have been changed from their real ones? Couldn't she have just invented names for them as well? But I have no bigger complaints and the style remained consistently enjoyable throughout My Salinger Year is a little bit frothy and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading a novel as opposed to an autobiographical work not necessarily a bad thing depends on how you look at it but it's a lot of fun and very enjoyable and accessible for readers like me who don't usually go for non fiction Pithy and funny it's designed to appeal to nostalgic book lovers everywhere and I'm sure it will

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My Salinger Year [EPUB] ✻ My Salinger Year By Joanna Rakoff – 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 gr Poignant keenly observed and irresistible a memoir about literary New York in the late 's 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 centuryAt 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 My Salinger Epub / 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 termsJoanna Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright hungry young woman moving through a heady and much longed for world trying to suare 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.