For many booklovers living today (especially those born since 1995), it may be difficult to remember a time when there was no internet, book orders were carried out by phone (provided you had a credit card) or via ‘snail mail’, great writers were widely respected celebrities with considerable influence in the popular culture (as well as in the market of ideas), and despite the proliferation of personal computers since the mid-1980s, the odd manual or electric typewriter still held its own in the workplace.
Here is a memoir [by Joanna Rakoff] that is “[p]oignant, keenly observed, and irresistibly funny: … about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century.
“Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with 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. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger’s, on her own dangerous and liberating terms.
“Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright, hungry young woman navigating a heady and longed-for world, trying to square romantic aspirations with burgeoning self-awareness, the idea of a life with life itself. Charming and deeply moving, filled with electrifying glimpses of an American literary icon, ‘MY SALINGER YEAR’ is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer. Above all, it is a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives and awaken our true selves.”
Available for sale JUNE 3rd.