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My Salinger Year

by Daniel Scheffler
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Thursday Jun 19, 2014
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Salinger brings up primal memories, especially for Americans, but certainly for a greater group of people than most other novels. Originally rejected and then picked up with the greatest acclaim is "Catcher in the Rye," perhaps one of the original coming of age novels. Joanna Rakoff now brings Salinger back into your bed with her "My Salinger Year," one of the best books of the year so far.

There was a time that typewriters were celebrated, when computers were seen as too advanced and perhaps brought up the fear of Orwell’s 1984 and the like. This is when Joanna, our smart and sensible (not always) heroine, takes her stage as a lowly assistant working in uptown New York in a literary agency - scrunching for change to buy lunch but her ideas transcending her circumstances. The agency of course represents "Jerry" and so the adventures with him and around him commence. What makes Rakoff so wonderful in this instance is her ability to make it about J.D. Salinger and her own life, but not to use it as a cheap ploy - she equips herself with enough of a story of her own, and frankly it’s more interesting than the Salinger we have grown to love/hate over the decades.

she equips herself with enough of a story of her own, and frankly it’s more interesting than the Salinger we have grown to love/hate over the decades.

Rakoff, a nice Jewish girl with a head for the world and a family that loves her, lies to herself, her boss, her boyfriend and even to the hundreds of fan mail letter senders that she receives for Jerry. She dutifully responds and here is where we find Joanna seeing her own value, her ideas about life and her philosophies and ideologies shape - all so beautifully like a bird swooping down into a lake for a sip of water.

Joanna, with whom you fall in love, represents that part of us that wants to please - a part that knows who they are but are not voicing it yet. It’s a privilege to read it, to feel it and to swim with her as she confides in the reader. Forget Jerry, and find Joanna’s strife and success in you, it’s worth the year with Salinger...

"My Salinger Year"
Joanna Rakoff
$25.95
Knopf

Based between New York and Cape Town, Daniel Scheffler writes about socio political and travel matters and is working on a memoir. Follow him on Twitter @danielscheffler.

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