REVIEW: MY SALINGER YEAR, BY JOANNA RAKOFF

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Set in Manhattan during the late 1990s, My Salinger Year is a memoir of a time and place that can evoke nostalgia for those who lived there and during those times.

It takes a very unique style to draw me into a memoir, and the author had that, as I was engaged from the very first page.

What reader isn’t fascinated with publishing and literary agencies? And who doesn’t want to know more about the mysterious J. D. Salinger?

Well, we don’t actually “meet” him in this book, but our narrator keeps us interested by her thoughts and the various fan letters to Salinger which she must read and respond to…but the rules are clear. The responses must be in a “form letter” style. So what happens when our narrator decides to go out on her own and take a personal interest in some of them? Does she do so because she has, in fact, spoken to Salinger (Jerry) on the phone and feels a connection?

In an era before computers were everywhere, Joanna typed on a Selectric and used a Dictaphone. I felt catapulted backwards in time to my own “secretarial” days when those machines were the norm. And then, once computers were available, who could even imagine the antiquated office equipment of those times?

The Boss is not given a name, and, except for Salinger, we know nothing of other clients of this agency. We learn a little more about The Boss as the book draws to a close, and I felt a personal connection to her then. Also the story shows the author’s dilemma as she tries to sort out her unsatisfying relationship with her live-in boyfriend Don. Years later, she looks back at this time in her life and shares her thoughts.

Themes of nostalgia, loss, and what resonates for readers who are fans of Salinger and other beloved writers, this was a captivating memoir that earned 4.5 stars for me.

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4 thoughts on “REVIEW: MY SALINGER YEAR, BY JOANNA RAKOFF

  1. The Cue Card

    Oh I’m glad you liked this one Laurel. I did too. It reminded me of some of my first jobs. And it was funny about how she described her life then and her Boss … smoking away and mysterious. An interesting picture of The Agency and being young etc. Cheers.

    Like

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