My Salinger Year

MySalingerYearMy Salinger Year
Joanna Rakoff
Knopf (June 3, 2014), 274 pages
Kindle Edition $10.99, Amazon Hardcover  $18.58

My Salinger Year is published as a memoir and in a note at the front of the book the author insists that the story is factual, with only a few changes in chronology and names. I have to take her word for that, I suppose.

In any case, the book reads like a novel. The author writes about her first job out of college in 1996. She gets a job as an assistant at a traditional literary agency in New York City. They are so traditional that they don’t believe in computers. The author types letters for her boss using a Dictaphone and an IBM Selectric typewriter.

She writes about her less-than-modest apartment shared with her boyfriend and how her father, unbeknownst to her, had saved up her college credit card debt and student loans (which she thought was scholarship money) for her to pay back. This on her minimal agency salary.

As it turns out, The Agency, as she calls it, has long represented J.D. Salinger, and her boss (always referred to as “my boss”) was Salinger’s agent. That meant a good portion of her job involved answering fan letters to Salinger, both those sent to the agency and those sent over from his publisher.

As a memoir, loose ends are not always tied up as we might expect in a novel, but if you have any interest in the New York literary scene, My Salinger Year is time well spent.

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