Rediscover: My Salinger Year

In 1996 at age 23, Joanna Rakoff began working for Harold Ober Associates, a New York literary agency that managed reclusive author J.D. Salinger. Her responsibilities included responding to the large amount of fan mail addressed to Salinger, who never read a word of it. Tired of returning the same canned response to so many earnest messages, Rakoff began replying on her own. Meanwhile, between workdays spent in luxurious offices amid agents enjoying three-martini lunches, Rakoff returned to a dingy Brooklyn apartment with no sink that she shared with a socialist boyfriend. Her time at the agency coincided with the attempted publication of Salinger's short story "Hapworth 16, 1924," which had previously been printed in the New Yorker decades prior. She even attended a meeting between the small publisher interested in reprinting the story and Salinger himself.

My Salinger Year (2014) is a memoir about Rakoff's experience at Harold Ober Associates that also captures a glamorous lost age of the pre-digital literary world. A film adaptation of Rakoff's book, written and directed by Philippe Falardeau, premiered at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival and will be released by IFC Films on March 5. It stars Margaret Qualley as Rakoff and Sigourney Weaver as her boss. My Salinger Year is available in paperback from Vintage ($15.95). --Tobias Mutter

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