MY SALINGER YEAR by Joanna Rokoff

I chose this book to read not because I am a die hard JD Salinger fan, but because it made the GoodReads list of top reads for 2014. What I probably should have realised is that GoodReads is primarily an American site, JD Salinger is an American writer who has a God like status amongst millions, and so I expect this memoir made the favourites list simply because it was read by many, many JD Salinger fans. There is plenty about JD Salinger in the book, but it is not actually about JD Salinger. Slightly misleading title maybe?

Still, for those that don't know, JD Salinger is the author of the famous coming of age tale 'The Catcher in the Rye'. Unlike America, this novel is unlikely to ever make compulsory reading in New Zealand high schools, but having said that, I do remember reading it for English at school way back in the 1970s and being sort of impressed by it - teenager Holden Caulfield giving the finger to everything and running away to New York.

This book is a memoir. Joanna Rakoff is now a successful writer in the US, but once upon a time she was a starry eyed university graduate looking to become a writer or at least get a foot in the door somewhere in the New York writing business. She lands a job as the assistant to the boss of a very successful and well established writers' agency in New York.  One of the many, many writers the agency represents is JD Salinger,  famously reclusive, who wanted all his correspondence from fans from all over the world to go through the agency, as he simply was unable to deal with it all. Amongst Joanna's numerous tasks was to reply to these letters - a fascinating task as the letters are really quite wonderful. She immerses herself into Salinger and his books, she talks to him on the phone, she finally meets him when he comes into the agency one day. He becomes her guiding light,  and his magic keeps her sane during her first 12 months in New York.

But the Salinger year is not just about JD Salinger. It is really about Joanna's year making it on her own in the Big Apple - earning money, finding somewhere habitable, her writer boyfriend, finding herself. And it is good, very readable. But, I am not sure if it is really enough to have made the top read list. However, I do want to read 'The Catcher in the Rye' again and remind myself why it is still such a great book.  

No comments:

Post a Comment