Letter Writers Alliance Book Club discussion

My Salinger Year
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Book Discussion > My Salinger Year

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Kathy (16sparrows) | 39 comments Mod
Hey all, we had to move these discussion to May 8th, Mother's Day, due to scheduling conflicts! You'll be able to watch and participate in the discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAKhB...

I'd love to hear some questions or thoughts you'd like us to answer/touch upon during our discussion!


Alyse Liebovich | 3 comments I've been wanting to read this ever since I added it to my school's collection last year! Now I have an excuse to finally check it out :-)


Cheryl | 1 comments I'm curious about reactions to Joanna writing her own responses to some of Salinger's fans, instead of sending the agency's standard reply. I found it disturbing, I think because it felt like she crossed a line, intruding in a personal (and potentially unwelcome) way into someone else's correspondence.


Kathy (16sparrows) | 39 comments Mod
Some questions for today's discussion:

• Midway through Joanna decides not to send the Agency form response to Salinger fans, and instead formulates her own responses. Why do you think she started writing herself?

• The book takes place right at the cusp of the "digital age." How do you think this story would change if it took place a few years earlier when the internet was more prevalent and email was inescapable?

• Have you ever written a letter or email to an author or celebrity? If so, what response were you expecting when you sent the missive?

Please feel free to add your own questions here or via Twitter, using the hashtag #LWABookClub


Kathy (16sparrows) | 39 comments Mod
I almost gave-up on the book, but since I have to talk about it online, I kept going!

Pip wrote: "I missed the discussion, but I have to say: I only made about 1/3 of the way through this book. Couldn't get interested in any of the characters at all. Nothing about this book grabbed me. Anyone e..."


Diana (secondhandrose) I finished the book today and caught up with YouTube video. Whoa - you guys are harsh. While I couldn't identify with the author (Yes Don was a drop kick who needed to be dumped!) I did enjoy this book. What I liked about it were the glimpses of New York in the early 1990s. I'm in Australia and have only been to New York once. I also liked the insights into the office culture at The Agency. I have never worked in an office so the dynamics interested me and the office culture. I liked the small glimpse into the literary world. I read 'Catcher in the Rye' in my final year of high school in the 70 s and loved it but have never revisited Salinger's work or been caught up in his aura. I did think Joanna overstepped the mark by responding to some of the fan letters but know that as a teenager if I got a form letter I would be disappointed if not crushed. Although I do not do it now, when I was younger I wrote to a few public figures. At around 13 I wrote to a famous Australian sportsman and received a lovely hand written note back. I don't think that would happen in this day or age. I understand that some people are overwhelmed by the amount of fan mail or comments but I have always respected those who take the time to respond even if it is only a note. To me it suggests they're not placing themselves out of the realm of the every day.
Looking forward to the next book.


Diana (secondhandrose) That should read 'out of the realm of every day.'


Kathy (16sparrows) | 39 comments Mod
Diana,

Thanks for joining and commenting! I did enjoy reading the book, but yes, perhaps we were a bit harsh. :) The New York scenes were definitely lovely and well-written. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt the boiler plate response letter was a bit anger-inducing.

Diana wrote: "I finished the book today and caught up with YouTube video. Whoa - you guys are harsh. While I couldn't identify with the author (Yes Don was a drop kick who needed to be dumped!) I did enjoy this ..."


Alyse Liebovich | 3 comments Hi All!
I ordered this book for my library's collection last year and have been meaning to read it since then. Although I started it mid-April, excited that it was an LWA pick, I didn't finish it until yesterday. Partially due to the end of school year craziness and partially due to not being as engaged with the story as I expected to be.

The reason I really wanted to read this book is because I thought it was going to focus primarily on the correspondence with Salinger. Although I of course felt nostalgic for my 4 years in NYC, this book wasn't what I wanted or hoped for it to be.

I also should mention that, like Joanna, I didn't read Catcher in the Rye until I was 23 or 24 years old. I liked it but I didn't understand the hype. I probably would have loved it had it been assigned in high school, and one of the amazing English teachers I had at the time guided us through it, but that wasn't the case. I tried picking up Frannie & Zoey a few years ago, but a few pages in I wasn't that into it and kept forgetting to pick it up again (I still intend to because this is one of my best friend's favorite books, so I'm still curious to read it).

Despite not having strong feelings about Salinger, I think my favorite parts about this book were the brief glimpses into his personality and Joanna's interactions with him whenever he calls the office and what it must have felt like the one time he appeared there in person.

I agree with Kathy and Donovan (after listening to the youtube recording) that I think one of its charms is that it takes place pre-digital age, and it would definitely lose that should it take place more recently.

This probably isn't a popular answer, but I kind of liked that she started responding to the letters not using the form letter. Even if the response angered me, I feel like it would mean much more if someone took the time to address my letter personally instead of sending a canned reply (although I suppose a form letter would also be better than nothing).

When I was a kid (no older than kindergarten), I wrote a letter to President Bush (Sr.) after his dog birthed a litter of puppies asking if I could have one. Imagine my excitement when I received a letter with "The White House" in the return address space! It was a very nice reply thanking me for wanting to care for a puppy but that they sadly were all spoken for already. I kind of still can't believe, 25+ years later, that someone took the time to respond that puppy request.

When I was a teenager experiencing a wonderful event at my high school called Writers Week (which I've now started as the librarian at the high school where I work), I felt really connected to the writing of one particular writer (his name is escaping me right now...), so I wrote him a thank-you letter and attached a piece of writing I felt was within the same realm of his. He not only replied to my letter, he sent my piece of writing back to me and edited/commented all over it. Changed my life.


Kathy (16sparrows) | 39 comments Mod
Alyse,

Wow, you have some amazing experiences writing to icons. It would have totally made my day to reply to a puppy request and it is absolutely awesome that the writer put in the time to send feedback!

Alyse wrote: "Hi All!
I ordered this book for my library's collection last year and have been meaning to read it since then. Although I started it mid-April, excited that it was an LWA pick, I didn't finish it ..."



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