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My Salinger Year

My Salinger Year [Kindle Edition]

Joanna Smith Rakoff
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Description

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 503 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408830175
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (5 Jun 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,796 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Salinger Year 5 Jun 2014
In 1996 author Joanna Rakoff, then twenty three, got her first proper job in New York at a very old, prestigious literary agency. She had recently returned to the States from London, where she had been studying. Now she had dreams of being a poet and, despite her parents expecting her to marry her college sweetheart, was living with Don – an aspiring novelist, socialist and, frankly, not marriage material.

This charming memoir is about growing up, as much as it is about working in publishing. Joanna is coming to terms with adult life – the worry of debt, having to pay the bills, coping with her feelings for Don and also the excitement of her new job. It is obvious that Joanna is a great lover of literature; an aspiring poet, she is hoping that working for ‘the Agency’ will lead to her exciting and involving jobs, such as reading manuscripts or dealing with authors. However, what she finds is something a little more mundane. For what appears months, she does little but type – on a typewriter. For the Agency distains modern gadgets like computers and, although there are references to “electronic books,” they are only as some kind of science fiction rumour that will never really exist in reality.

Joanna’s boss is a lady who has worked for the Agency for years and is known to have frightened off lesser assistants. However, Joanna is made of sterner stuff and, besides, she needs the money. Her boss deals with many authors, but their most famous client is J.D.Salinger, known to her boss as ‘Jerry’. Almost the first thing that Joanna is told is that she must never give out the personal details, address or phone number, of the reclusive author. Joanna has, though, never read anything by him and is, at first, slightly snobbish about his work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By trishthedish VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I adored this book; it was charming, wonderfully observant concerning human nature and superbly well written. Yes, this is a coming of age book, much as Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", which looms large in the background (and often the foreground) of this book. The protagonist here is real as this is a biography, she is slightly older, working in her first job as an assistant for a literary agent in New York. It sounds very glamorous, but in effect the office is quite charmingly old fashioned, even for the late 1990s. A single computer is introduced at one point, a token to modernity, but this is meant to save staff endless trips to the library for research purposes, it is strictly not for wordprocessing or emails or any type. Piles of typing get done on a old fashioned electric typewriter, a machine with which the author establishes a love hate relationship before too long. The goings on in the office, the relationships between staff (which seem quite formal, even for the times in question) and her life outside work, form the basis of this gentle but oh so revealing read. There are some wonderful sections describing the odd eccentricites of how the agency deal with their most famous author - the Salinger of the title, as well as others. This is partly a description of a way of working and attitudes to working skills, which no longer exist. The boss, is distant and aloof but one feels ultimately fair, and she prizes her personal relationships with individual authors, preened and shaped over years. Not for her selling a work to the publisher who will bid the most, she paintakingly tries to fit the author to publisher. It must be the right binding, the right paper and typeface. Read more ›
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I got wind of this book earlier this year via a radio interview the author gave with the BBC in London. She sounded like a bubbly, funny, and interesting person. Besides, what details she relayed from her book about her indirect relationship with J.D. Salinger made me want to buy it.

"My Salinger Year" has proven to be one of the most enjoyable and pleasant reading experiences I've had this summer. Rakoff recaptures for the reader the essence and flavor of her 1-year stint working for a New York publishing company in the late 1990s, just as the publishing world is poised to enter the digital age, which would sweep aside a host of long established practices and customs.

Rakoff's boss is the agent for the reclusive and celebrated writer J.D. Salinger. Rakoff's role is that of a loyal assistant in a dimly lit office where typewriters and Dictaphones still hold sway and "old-time agents doze at their desks" hungover from martini lunches. She's grateful to have this job, having freshly returned from London, where she had been a graduate student and lived with a boyfriend she loved but forsook when he opted to go on to Berkeley (CA) and she eventually settled for living in a dilapidated Brooklyn apartment with Don, a new boyfriend who is an avowed Socialist with a rather overinflated sense of himself and his literary talents.

Rakoff has her own dreams of a literary career, of finding herself as a writer. But for the time being, at the Agency, she is "tasked with answering Salinger's voluminous fan mail. But as Rakoff reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the ... decades-old form response.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Of Jerry and Joanna
Based on her own experiences as an apprentice starting out in New York’s literary circles, this is not so much a coming of age memoir as a welcome to the real world story. Read more
Published 8 days ago by D. J. Franklin
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and melancholic
A lovely read. This could have been a disaster but the writing and tone it so well judged - gentle, wise, funny and melancholic, and nicely understated. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Will
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary Coming of Age tale
In the early 90's Joanna Rakoff finds herself in newly graduated in New York and need of a job, preferably one with a literary bent. Read more
Published 16 days ago by HappyCat
4.0 out of 5 stars Bridget Jones escapes from Pseud's Corner
The blurb on the front flap of the dust jacket suggests that the primary theme of this autobiographical (? Read more
Published 18 days ago by P. G. Harris
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyably light reading and well worth your time
Salinger means little to nothing to me. I've not read any of his work or even know many of their titles. Read more
Published 22 days ago by BS on parade
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is special. You must read it.
1996. Back in New York having studied in England Joanna Rakoff lands into the real world with a bump. Read more
Published 24 days ago by LJBentley
4.0 out of 5 stars New York in the nineties
Joanna Rakoff's memoir recounts the year she spent working for a Manhattan literary agency. Rakoff is young and unsure of her future, and this, her first 'proper' job gives her a... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Eleanor
4.0 out of 5 stars 4* for a deceptively simple window into the ordinary magic of literary...
Does a reviewer become sexist in suggesting that a book will work better for female than male readers, or vice versa? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Angus Jenkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars a voracious read
In the mid-90's 23-year-old Rakoff returnes from London, where she graduated from the university, to her native New York. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ray Garraty
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of literature
Back in 1996, Joanna Rakoff, a literature grad and unpublished poet started a job as an agent's assistant at a prestigious, old fashioned, literary agent, styled in this book as... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lady Fancifull
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