My Salinger Year is a memoir of a young woman, Joanna Rakoff, who having recently graduated from college doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life. She gets a job in a literary agency, without having much idea as to what a literary agency might do. When she starts work, her boss gives her lengthy and repeated lectures about how she mustn’t talk to Jerry, or make Jerry wait on the phone. She must immediately pass Jerry onto her boss, and NEVER EVER tell him about how she would love it if he read her own stories. (She has no stories to show him anyway) It is a while before Joanna realizes that Jerry, is JD Salinger.
Part of Joanna’s job is to deal with Salinger’s fan mail. The Agency has strict and very clear instructions that fan mail will never be passed on to the author. Their main job is to protect him from the public, and especially, journalists. There is a form letter which Jo is supposed to send to the fans, but as she reads more and more of the letters, she finds if harder to do that, and starts to write responses of her own.
Meanwhile, Joanna is living with Don, a would be author who has written and extremely dense and obscure, probably un-publishable novel and the relationship is very one sided. Her year with the agency teaches Jo a lot about life, and helps her work out what she wants to do with her own.
It’s terrific. $28