My Salinger Year (2020) Movie Script

I grew up in a quiet suburban
town just north of New York.
On special occasions, my dad
would take me into the city
and we would go and get dessert
at the Waldorf or the Plaza.
I loved watching the people around us.
They seemed to have interesting lives.
I wanted to be one of them.
I wanted to write novels,
and speak five languages and travel.
I didn't want to be ordinary.
I wanted to be extraordinary.
Those memories came storming
back to me last year
when I came to visit my
best friend in New York.
I was only supposed to stay a few days,
and then return to Berkeley,
where my boyfriend was waiting on me.
But something shifted.
I wanna stay in New York for a while.
A while?
KARL: What do you mean a while?
What about your semester?
- Yeah, but see that's just it,
I don't want to analyze other
people's work anymore, Karl.
I wanna write.
KARL: In New York?
In New York.
Isn't that what aspiring writers did?
Live in cheap apartments
and write in cafes?
Yeah, I know, but it's what I wanted.
My boss says we're going
paperless, all emails.
It's driving me nuts
with everyone writing about nothing,
answering thanks or worse, you're welcome.
My colleague sends me emails to ask me
when I'm having lunch.
I hope this is just a
trend that will phase out.
I miss your rants.
Everyone in Berkeley is so serious,
and the jogging and wearing Tivos.
Fucking Tivos?
I'm like this big cloud of East Coast
irony haunting Southern California.
Turning everything into Ash.
That's me.
Does Karl feel the same?
Um, it's not really the same for him
'cause he's been there
for a couple of years
and the university sorta
treats him like a star.
Huh, well-
Hey, Jenny.
I don't know exactly how
long I'm gonna be staying
in New York.
Don't worry, just keep
making yourself at home.
Eat anything.
RECRUITER: MA in English literature,
University College in London,
I suppose that would
make you more appealing
to some publishers, less to most.
You published poetry?
Yes, yes, in the Paris Review.
I just won their student contest.
Leave that out.
Publishers avoid wannabe writers.
Oh, that is what I want
to do though. Eventually.
Oh, I got it.
Not a publisher.
How about a literary agency?
The oldest in New York.
Do you type?
Uh, I took typing in seventh grade.
Of course you don't type.
She's gonna ask you if you can type
and you are gonna say?
60 words a minute
But do you type on a typewriter?
It's very different from typing
on one of those computers.
What do you like to read?
Laurie, Hammet, Donald Westlake.
I just finished "A Sentimental
Education" and I loved it.
It was so contemporary,
I was amazed
but to be in this field,
you'll need to read
authors who are alive.
I love Flamel.
I like Westlake.
He's funny.
I guess you can start after Christmas.
We'll talk about Jerry then.
Ah, Jerry.
I'm sure you've heard that he's crazy
or senile or a misanthrope, all lies.
He's not the problem.
It's these people who
relentlessly call for his address,
his phone number, asking to
be put in touch with him.
Or even with me.
Reporters, students,
university deans, producers.
They can be persuasive, manipulative,
but you must never ever
give out his address.
Do you understand?
I understand.
Good, remember,
there's no shortage
of college graduates
who want this job.
Be prepared for long hours.
Pam will give you a key
Pam, okay.
Thank you so much.
I can't tell you how
honored and thrilled I am.
No need to be honored,
thrilled maybe.
Margaret is pretty thrilling.
I'm Daniel by the way.
That Jerry.
JOANNA V.O.: I didn't know yet
what a literary agency was,
but it felt like I'd stepped
closer to the world of writers.
I was to be surrounded by
god-like literary names.
No doubt their proximity
would inspire my own writing.
- Well, Congratulations
on your new job.
Here's your key.
Do not lose it.
We will expect you at
8:00 AM sharp, January 8th.
I never went back to Berkeley.
New York was to be my new home,
writing my new life
with a coveted job to pay the rent.
DON: Hey.
Hey, come, come, come join us.
This is Joanna.
This is Mark, this is Lisa.
They just got engaged, so-
Oh wow.
Oh my goodness, congratulations.
Sit down.
The office is incredible.
It's like nothing's changed since 1927,
and I'm guessing my boss represents-
- Anne Rice.
- The Pope.
Thomas Pynchon.
J. D. Salinger.
- No way.
- He's still alive?
Yeah, he is, he lives
up in New Hampshire
in basically total isolation.
Reporters are always trying to
ambush him in the local diner
or try to sneak onto his property.
I love "Catcher In The Rye",
but "Franny and Zoe"
is my favorite.
My friend Kat used to
work at his publishers.
And one night, she was working late.
Like 1:00 AM late, and the
phone rings in the office
and keeps ringing.
So she picks it up and she
heard someone screaming.
The manuscript is okay!
I saved the manuscript from the fire.
His house had burned down
and he called in the middle of the night
assuming someone would be at the office.
Isn't that crazy?
I read that he's still writing,
but that he doesn't wanna publish.
Writing makes you a writer,
not publishing.
Publishing is commerce.
Such a crock of shit, Don.
This is some preemptive strike argument
in case he never sells a novel,
if you ever finish writing.
I will, but today is about Joanna
and her crossing to the dark side
with the book munchers, cheers.
I had met Don days earlier
in a socialist bookstore
where he worked part time.
Haven't seen you around here before.
Let me guess, you're an
intern at the New Yorker.
Besides fighting materialism
and raising class awareness,
Don was into boxing,
Norman Mailer, and?
I'm writing a novel.
He was straightforward
about being a writer.
I admired his confidence.
Do you know the Panama Cafe?
It's on Avenue Way,
it's kind of like a writers' hangout.
I do actually.
Yeah, they have poetry-
Poetry reading.
Love is the one who's hard to find,
love's the one who knows your mind,
love's the one who feeds your soul,
love's the one to have and hold.
But hold a minute, hold how,
there's a hundred hungry
ways to hold her up
or hold her down.
Will she still be able to get around.
Will she be able to hold her breath
Where the hell were you?
Cut the goddamn grass today
or else I'm selling your K car, you hear?
Dear Mr. Salinger, I read your book,
"The Catcher In The Rye"
three times now.
It's a masterpiece, and I
hope you're proud of it.
I mean, you certainly should be.
Most of the crap that's written
today is so uncompelling
it makes me sick.
I mean, not too many
people write anything
that even approaches sincerity.
And I don't mean to say that everyone
who reads your book gets it.
Not at all, lots of people don't.
I mean I can give you
plenty of idiotic examples,
but I won't.
[CHUCKLES] Hell, you might be
laughing out loud right now
at the thought but I think I get it.
Maybe I don't.
MARGARET: Well, you are here.
- I am.
- We know you can type, hooray
but have you ever used a dictaphone?
At ease.
It can be tricky at first,
but I'm sure you'll get the hang of it.
Play, rewind, and I think
those control speed.
- Hugh can help.
- Hugh?
You can get started with these.
This is our technological area.
It is all very new.
This is a Xerox machine
you'll use to make copies
of my correspondence.
I believe that is the button
you press to make a copy.
Did she give you her speech
about the evils of the digital age yet?
Max, this is Joanna,
my new assistant.
Hello, Joanna.
Nice to meet you.
So there are no computers?
We choose not to use computers.
I've seen them in action.
They just make more work
for everyone, wasting time.
All right, as you can see,
we have a relaxed,
cordial environment.
We ask that you don't
wear dungarees, sneakers,
T-shirts, sweatshirts,
especially the kind with hoods.
No open-toed shoes,
but it's perfectly fine to wear
trousers if you're a woman,
and no need to wear
stockings in the summer.
Bare legs are perfectly fine.
And if Jerry calls you just say,
"Yes, Jerry, I will let my boss know."
Jerry Salinger?
Well of course, Jerry Salinger.
And above all,
you never ever call him.
[LAUGHS] Why would I
call Jerry Salinger?
Jerry doesn't wanna hear
about how much you love
"The Catcher In The Rye".
And he doesn't want to read your stories.
Don't have stories.
Good, writers make the worst assistants.
Get to work.
[ON TAPE] MARGARET: The proprietor
hereby grants to the publisher.
Starting from the day...
I'm Hugh, you must be Joanna.
Yes, hi. Nice to meet you.
If you need anything,
I'm right here.
I take care of contracts, legal,
copyrights, the fun stuff.
Salinger's letters, fan mail.
You need to answer them using these.
There's one for each type of inquiry;
adaptation, autobiography,
autograph, photograph,
interview, celebrity auction.
Mr. Salinger does not wish
to receive mail from his readers.
Thus we cannot pass your kind note onto him.
That's the year he stopped responding himself.
You need to take the new one
based exactly on this verbatim.
No change.
So Salinger doesn't get any of his mail?
Not one. You shred them in the shredder.
You should always read them.
Yes, indeed.
- Just in case.
- Just in case.
In case of what?
We've been extra careful
since the Mark David Chapman thing.
John Lennon's assassin.
When the police arrived at the Dakota,
they found Chapman calmly
sitting on the sidewalk
reading "Catcher In The Rye".
At his trial Chapman said,
that the big part of him
was Holden Caulfield?
- And the small part of him was,
the devil.
Did Chapman write to Salinger?
We'll never know, since
we throw away the mail.
Read everything thoroughly.
Use your judgment.
I think about Holden a lot.
When I first think about him,
I get a stupid grin
on my face, you know?
Thinking about what a
funny guy he is and all.
But then I usually
get depressed as hell
'cause I only think about Holden
when I'm feeling very emotional and,
I can get quite emotional.
I can get quite emotional.
This boy is so earnest.
A major loser is what he is.
- Hey, he is not.
- He is.
He's very sweet.
He's a little funny,
but he's sweet.
And he cares so much.
I can't send him a letter that says,
"Dear kid, Mr. Salinger
has no interest in you.
So please fuck off."
Look, this one is from the Netherlands.
Me and my wife trace Holden's
steps around New York.
Did you know that the ducks
in Central Park stay through winter?
My God, literally a bunch
of obsessive freaks.
I haven't read
"Catcher In The Rye".
You're kidding.
I haven't read any Salinger.
Wow, everybody's read
Catcher at the very least.
Yeah, well, at the risk
of disappointing you,
there are actually a few
writers that I've yet to read.
Well, I'm shocked.
Okay, look, this girl is
ready to go to bed with him.
He's 70 something.
Don't be naive.
Good literature is a
powerful aphrodisiac.
I never had that teenage Salinger moment.
We never read "Catcher
In The Rye" at school.
And later I was interested
in difficult, gritty fiction.
BRETT: Hey, hun.
Jenny's not here right now.
- Oh, I'll be in the kitchen.
MARGARRET V.O: I imagine Salinger's books
to be insufferably cute,
quirky and precious.
I didn't want to be entertained.
I wanted to be provoked.
- My shoulder hurts from
carrying all those manuscripts.
- Hey, Joanna.
- Hi.
Oh, I found a writer for
Max out of the slush pile.
The stories are so good,
I read them last night
and I was sobbing by the end.
What's the slush pile?
The slush pile?
Okay, it's like the most amazing
and most horrible part of our job.
The stack of manuscripts
nobody wants to read.
Basically it's all the
unsolicited query letters.
People with no referral
who write to agents cold.
The slush pile is like 99% crazy shit.
Though some of it is
seriously hilarious.
But very, very occasionally
you find something amazing.
Your boss doesn't let you read?
I'm available to read manuscripts,
should that be something
that you're interested in
at home or my free time of course.
Tabs wrong, margins wrong,
proper names wrong,
really, everything wrong.
You can start retyping today.
And here as a bonus
is today's dictation.
Forget about manuscripts.
You need to get that right.
Is it on?
As you know, I believe
that computers make work
rather than alleviate it.
But I agreed to install
one in the office
on a trial basis because-
It came in an elegant black.
Because Hugh discovered that people,
I don't know who these people are
and why they don't have
more important things
to do with their lives,
but people have been publishing
whole Salinger stories
on their personal e-webs.
Web blogs.
Web blogs, ridiculous.
This is blatant copyright infringement.
And we're going to have
to scour the worldwide web
to put an end to it.
And that is all the
computer is to be used for.
Sorry to interrupt.
Just passing through.
Don't mean to cause a fuss.
We can turn it off now.
Uh, it's already off.
Okay, good.
And then maybe the little
coat that goes over it,
I've seen it in pictures.
Thank you, Max.
MAX: I'm afraid we don't have...
MARGARET V.O: There were hundreds of us, thousands maybe,
all girls working at literary
agencies or publishing houses.
We answered calls for our bosses,
ushered in the writers,
fetched them water.
Never belying the fact
that we wanted to be writers ourselves.
We whispered about the lucky ones,
the ones who were
mentored by their bosses,
who were allowed to take
on books or clients.
The ones who broke the
rules to show initiative.
The ones who wanted it badly enough.
Please find two copies of the contract
with St. Martin publishing.
Let's face it.
I was a secretary.
- Hello.
- Speaking to? It's Jerry.
- Hello, Mr. Salinger.
- Who is this?
- This is Joanna.
- Who?
- I'm Joanna, I'm
Margaret's new assistant.
- Oh, Margaret's new assistant.
Nice to meet you, Susanna.
How do you like your job?
- I love it.
- Good to hear.
I'm calling to speak to your boss.
- Unfortunately, she's not in right now.
Can I leave her a message?
- Oh, no. I'll call back.
Well, I'm sure you have a lot of work.
It was very nice
talking to you, Susanna.
I'm looking forward to
meeting you in person.
- You too.
Have a great day.
- Goodbye.
- I never say have a great day
He's deaf, explosion during the war.
- She just left?
- Yes.
Better go tell her.
Margaret. Sorry.
I'm sorry to disturb you,
we just got a call from,
your client just called.
I wonder which one.
I have to take this.
Go ahead, boss.
I'll wait for you at the restaurant.
You did the right thing.
Salinger wants to publish a book.
The press is gonna go nuts.
No press, no one must know, that's our job.
So it's true.
He's been writing.
Well, no, it's an old story.
Hapworth, publisher.
Clifford Bradbury
approached him to publish it
as a standalone book.
He has been thinking
about it for eight years.
The publisher wrote
to him back in '88.
Jerry liked the fact that
he wrote on a typewriter.
How did he get Jerry's address?
He addressed it to J.D. Salinger,
Cornish, New Hampshire.
Postman delivered it.
That's brilliant.
Wait, wait, wait, wait,
wait, wait, wait, Margaret.
What kind of publisher is this?
It can't be Little Brown
or any major house,
they would have just called you.
Oh boy, you're gonna love this, Max.
It is a tiny press in Virginia,
kind of a one-man operation.
Marygold press.
Mary Bell's Press?
Yes, that's it.
You know them?
They publish poetry and I
like a few of their poets.
Are you fucking kidding me?
A one-man press is going
to publish the first book
from Salinger in three decades?
That's fucked.
Publishing Salinger is different
than publishing poetry.
Thank you.
Obviously, we have to proceed carefully.
Find out everything we can
about this Clifford Bradbury.
I'll call 'em.
I won't mention Salinger
and I'll ask for his catalog
and a sample for our records.
Good thinking.
Hugh, get me the contract
with the New Yorker, please.
What's Hapsworth?
It was published in
the New Yorker in '65.
Took up almost the whole magazine.
Pretty common in those days.
Esquire did it, Cosmo.
That's where I got my start,
buying stories for a magazine.
For Cosmo?
For Playboy.
How did you end up
working for Playboy?
Enough chit chat, Joanna.
Back to work.
Hi, is this Clifford Bradbury?
Hi, this is Joanna Rakoff.
I work for ANF Literary Management.
The job of an agent is
to open up opportunities
for their clients.
But when it came to Salinger,
the logic was reversed.
We had to shield him
from the outside world,
bolstering his reputation
as a complicated recluse.
But publishing
Hackworth was going
to get a lot of attention.
Nobody understood his change of heart.
Night, Jerry.
Maybe I thought I understood.
Maybe he realized that what he wanted
wasn't what he wanted at all.
JENNY: Are you serious?
You're like, yeah, [INDISTINCT]
visiting me in my room.
What are you writing?
Writing a very bad poem.
Listen, Brett and
I were talking and,
look, when you first
got back to New York
and I said that you could stay here,
to be honest, I thought you'd
go back to Berkeley with Karl.
You're kicking me out?
No, like I'm happy to have you here.
And you can stay if you want.
But what did you plan on
doing, what are your options?
We disinfected the apartment
'cause the man before had seven cats,
but young, married, couple like you
take better care of it, yeah?
We're not married.
The man next door, he
takes care of little things
if you need it.
He's Mexican, he drinks,
but he works hard.
How much?
- 560.
- We'll think about it.
No, we'll take it.
Oh, good deal.
You're Jewish, yeah?
- Me?
- Mm?
I like very responsible
Let's sign the paper.
The lease is gonna be under her name.
Could just given ourselves
a day to think about it.
This is New York city, young lady.
The big time.
I barely make $300 a week.
No, wait, we split the rent, booba.
I'm gonna pay my half.
I just have to avoid
the credit check.
Look, I'll take care of
the furniture, all right?
There's no sink.
There's no sink in the kitchen.
I knew that there was something
off about the apartment
but I couldn't put my finger on it.
And there's no sink in the kitchen.
We just signed a lease for
an apartment with no sink.
But we can do the dishes in the bath tub,
it's no big deal.
There's a tub. Trust me.
Dear Mr. Salinger, please
forgive my bad English.
I work much at night and I like it
because I don't have to
talk to people so much.
My heart is troubled, just
like Holden Caulfield-
Holden is like my
grandfather, you know?
A no-bullshit man.
He taught me a lot about human nature.
He warned me, I will be
disappointed by most people.
We would be very honored
if you would serve as our
commencement reader next year.
We would, of course provide
you with accommodation
in a very fine inn where your privacy,
which I know is important to you,
would be scrupulously respected.
The fishing helps me, a nice
refuge from my nightmares.
It's been 27 years since Vietnam.
They just keep getting worse.
You know, seeing your dead friends,
having their guts ripped out.
I'm sure you must have
similar type dreams
being a veteran who-
Does not wish to receive
mail from his readers.
Thus, we can not pass along
your kind note to him.
We thank you for your interest
in Mr. Salinger's book.
My daughter died from leukemia.
She was a talented young writer.
I'm founding a small literary
magazine in her memory,
and I'd like permission
to call it Banana Fish.
The Salinger was her-
Titles can't be copyrighted?
Absolutely, Jerry.
I could write a novel and
call it "The Great Gatsby"
if I wanted to.
So yes, she can call her
magazine Banana Fish.
But the agency can't advise her.
- Really?
- Yup.
I'm just telling you this
for your own edification.
Send the form letter
and finish shredding.
That's absurd.
MARGARET: Well, of course,
you're right.
She's gonna start yelling at me
the minute she's off the phone.
MARGARET: Pleasure to talk to you, Jerry,
as always.
Crap sandwich.
Do you have the Salinger contract ready?
Yes, almost there.
Ask Pam to call a messenger
so we can get it over to
the New Yorker before 6:00.
- The New Yorker?
- Yes.
Probably best if I just
bring it myself then, no?
I grew up reading the New Yorker
following my father's ritual.
He would start with the movie reviews
and then turn to the talk of the town,
and then the features.
In college, everyone
was into The New Yorker.
My boss wanted me to make sure
this was delivered right away.
Thank you.
Can I help you with something else?
No, no, no, no.
That was it. Thanks.
I was at the Algonquin
serving him a martini.
Anyway, I used my Cosmo
ID to get in the room.
I recognized the agent,
he did not recognize me.
And we spent the evening talking
about William's tragic
death and the agency.
MAX: And?
- And I lost my job at
Cosmo for not showing up
the next morning.
But I kept the man's
card, and a year later,
I gave him a call at the agency.
And he hired me, and
the rest is history.
Joanna, what is it?
Something wrong?
She was walking by looking
cold and hungry and forlorn.
And I invited her in.
Joanna, please sit down.
I really don't want to interrupt.
Don't be silly.
This is my wife, Helen.
Nice to meet you.
We were just reminiscing,
telling tales about the lost generation.
Hemingway, Fitzgerald.
Do you know the agency
represented Fitzgerald?
Of course, yes.
And Dylan Thomas, Langston
Hughes, Agatha Christie.
And you've read all
their work, of course
I have, however, my boss
suggests that I read writers
that are alive.
Speaking of living writers,
are you familiar with Rachel Cusk?
Don't take the bait, Joanna.
DANIEL: I am. Yes, I am, I am.
Her first novel,
"Saving Agnes" was huge.
It won the Whitbread, I think?
And everyone that I knew
in London was reading it.
It was our lives basically,
or it was my life.
What is it about?
Well, it's a coming-of-
age tale, definitely.
I guess it's about the
ways in which women
need to get over this self
-loathing of their bodies say.
I'd say it's more about how
the patriarchy imposes rigid
and terrifying ideas of
femininity onto young women.
How that paralyzes them, and
strips them of their dignity.
I don't know, it doesn't feel
quite that didactic to me.
It's a very introspective novel.
It doesn't really read
like social commentary.
Okay, Joanna meet Rachel Cusk.
- Hello.
- No, no.
- I'm so sorry.
- It's okay.
It's lovely to meet you.
You're a novelist yourself?
Joanne is my assistant.
I don't hire writers.
I'm very particular about it.
I thought all publishing assistants
were writing novels at their desk.
If you can write a novel at your desk
while fetching coffee for
a tyrant like Margaret,
good luck.
Well, you really have to love it.
You have to want it more than
anything in the entire world.
More than a boyfriend or a
closet full of pretty dresses,
or a fancy job that
makes everyone jealous.
You need to be okay with saying no
when you're invited to a party,
and you really need to be okay
with having your mother
and father hate you.
Joanna, don't you have
some dictation to finish?
- Yes, I do.
- Margaret.
Those St. Martins contract memos
need to go out immediately.
- Absolutely.
- Okay.
It was nice to meet you all, thank you.
- Bye.
- Lovely to meet you.
You got a letter from your
high school sweetheart, Karl.
Does he know about us?
Yeah, I'm sure I mentioned it.
Joanna, did you break up with him?
Like a proper breakup?
"Dear Karl, it's not you it's me.
I'm sorry, it's over," you
know, the normal stuff?
We haven't talked in three months
and he knows that I'm not
going back to California.
Did you talk to the
landlady about the heating?
Why do you need a heater?
Your love should keep you warm.
I was hoping you might find
the time to write back,
but I bet you must be
getting a lot of letters.
But I feel like writing again,
if you don't mind me doing so
'cause well, I feel
depressed as hell.
And I figured it's the
honest thing to do.
Your characters are the
only ones in literature
who are truly like me.
I mean, they take action.
They don't sit around
contemplating suicide.
They pick up a gun and they
shoot themselves in the head.
He's challenging Jerry.
It's a game and you're falling for it.
I feel this boy just
deserves a proper response,
not our usual bullshit.
You are confusing
judgment with empathy.
I have read hundreds of
letters just like this one.
It can get overwhelming,
but just do your job.
Did you send my letter to Mr. Salinger?
Did you send my letter to Salinger?
You have no right to keep my letter.
You can't read other people's mail.
I wat at least expecting a confirmation.
JOANNA V.O.: Dear Mr. Salinger, I hate school.
Especially English class.
"Catcher In The Rye" is
the only book I liked.
My teacher is going to make me flunk.
She says I'll have to repeat my year
and that's gonna be so embarrassing.
So I asked her, "What can I do?"
"Write a letter to J.D.
Salinger," she told me.
"And make it so good
that he'll write back.
If he writes back,
I'll give you an A."
Please write back,
so I can get an A.
An A earned by trickery
means absolutely nothing.
You'll soon find out that young women
are often held to double standards
when it comes to success.
You need to prove to
yourself and to your peers
that you do not need special treatment.
If you desire an A
or a passing grade,
you must do the work assigned to you.
And if you want to uphold
the spirit of Holden,
try not to care too much
about how people judge you.
This might mean being more humble,
but it's the only way.
Sincerely, Joanna Rakoff.
You've become quite the expert
in what Salinger would say.
"If you want to uphold
the spirit of Holden",
have you read Catcher yet?
You haven't?
Brett got accepted at Case Western.
I thought he's going to Brooklyn Law.
He's from the Midwest.
He misses it, you know?
So you'll stay here until he's done?
Of course not.
I'm going with him.
We're engaged, remember?
Wait, you're moving?
I thought you loved your work?
I do, but Cleveland is a cool city.
We're already looking for
a place in Shaker Heights.
Wow. Suburbs.
Have you been writing lately?
I don't really write anymore.
I know we used to say that
we wanted to become writers
but that was more your thing.
I kind of grew out of it.
You make it sound like a teenage phase.
Isn't that what it was?
I don't understand.
You're dropping everything
for Brett's project?
Whoa, Joanna stop.
I don't wanna be a writer.
You keep saying you want to
write, but you work long hours
for other writers while Don
is at home writing his novel.
Oh, we both write,
and we're supportive of each other's work.
Well, then I'm happy for you guys.
Please be happy for me.
I'm sorry.
Why don't we go to the
Waldorf and get dessert?
I'll have the $12 cheesecake.
Maybe we'll catch my boss
on her martini ones or something.
I gotta get back to work.
Everything to your liking?
Yes, thank you.
May I get you a cab?
It's such a nice day,
I think I'll walk.
It is a beautiful day.
You enjoy it then.
JOANNA: Hello.
- JERRY: Hello, Susanna.
How are you today?
- I'm great. How are you?
How's the weather in Cornish?
- It's very pleasant.
- Tell me something, Susanna.
I was looking at those books
from this fellow, Clifford,
in Virginia, Mary Bells Press.
- Yes.
- What do you think of them?
- Honestly, I think the
design isn't great.
I think they'd really benefit
from hiring a designer.
But as far as the books themselves,
I've only read a few.
I do like some of the
poets they publish though.
- Well, you read poetry?
- I do, yes. A lot.
- Do you write poetry yourself?
- I do.
- Oh, I'm very glad to hear
Poetry is food for the soul.
Never forget that.
- Food for the soul,
I've got it.
- Susanna, it's important
to write every day.
You know that?
- I'll keep that in mind.
- Jerry wants to meet Clifford.
Gosh, gotta find somewhere discreet.
Well, it won't be.
Jerry's driving down to
Washington on Wednesday.
They're meeting in a cafeteria
at Georgetown University.
That's awful. Awful.
Do we trust this Clifford fellow?
I don't know.
So we're presuming he's
not gonna tip off The Post
that the world's most reclusive writer
who barely leaves his home,
who hasn't given an
interview in decades,
will be having lunch at
Georgetown University on Wednesday?
You have mentioned this
possibility to Jerry?
I have not.
Jerry thinks of Clifford as a pal.
If I say anything negative about him,
Jerry will not take it kindly.
That's it. Back to work.
Oh, Joanna.
Tell me what you think of this.
Judy Blume?
- You've heard of her?
- Of course, I have.
I read all of her books as a kid.
I love her. Everyone loves her.
She was a client of my
predecessor, Claire.
She's not written a
book in a long time.
Have you ever read Judy Blume?
No, I don't read
children's literature.
But they're so wonderful.
I'm sure, Claire had impeccable taste.
You wanna go out?
We're broke.
So? We'll split a beer.
It's open mic night at the KGB.
- What?
- You can bring a poem.
They'll love you.
- You're not funny.
- I'm not trying to be.
Your poems are good.
I have a Judy Blume manuscript to read.
Judy Blume?
Judy fucking Blume?
I loved "Then Again Maybe I Won't".
You liked Judy Blume?
Yeah, I mean, I was a kid
once and like a hero, Tony,
my parents were working class
and moved to middle-class area.
- It's about social class.
- No, it's not. [LAUGHS]
It turns you on that I like
pedestrian stuff, doesn't it?
To be given Judy Blume's
new book was like
going from sitting in the
stands to hitting a home run.
I felt lucky to be on the inside.
- Well?
- I like it.
But what do you make of it?
I'm not sure what you mean.
Well, it's not a kid's book, is it?
No, no.
It's about kids for grownups.
It's about female friendship.
But will adults buy a book about kids?
Can I sell it?
Lots of books have child
protagonists, "Oliver Twist".
This is not Oliver Twist,
but you would buy it?
I would.
Many people would.
There's the nostalgia factor.
You know, my entire generation
grew up on Judy Blume.
- Maybe.
- Definitely.
All right, you've had your fun.
I've put new tapes on your desk.
Close the door.
Judy, Margaret's expecting you.
PAM: Coffee?
That's very exciting. Yes.
What is it?
- Judy Blume's here.
- Shit.
Michael, hold on one second.
That's today?
I thought we had more time.
She's going to blow this, isn't she?
I think so.
Hey, we've been renovating,
moving everything around
which is why your books are
down there and out of order.
Don't worry about it.
I'm Joanna, I'm Margaret's new assistant.
I'm such a huge fan of yours.
That's very sweet of you.
Really nice to meet you.
Judy, how lovely to see you.
Come into my office.
Joanna, why don't you
answer your phone?
There's someone at the
reception who wants to see you.
- Are you Joanna Rakoff?
- Yes.
Is that your real name?
'Cause it's so ridiculous,
it sounds fake.
You have no right to keep my
letter from J.D. Salinger.
I'm sorry.
Who are you?
Because of you,
I'm going to fail English.
Is everything all right here?
- No.
- Yes. Yes.
Why don't we go downstairs
and get a coffee, okay?
Aren't you supposed to be in school?
Who do you think you are?
It's my job here to answer Jerry's mail.
Oh, it's Jerry to you.
Is he your sugar daddy?
No, I've never even met him, okay?
Mr. Salinger does not
want to receive his mail.
So instead you lecture
me like you're my mother.
You're right, okay?
I'm sorry.
I apologize.
Your letter was different
and I thought you deserved a real response
instead of our, I'm sorry,
we can not pass along
your kind note bullshit.
So I wrote you something more personal.
What makes you think your advice is better
than some bullshit response?
I'm going to summer school.
So thanks a lot, Ms. Rakoff
You sent a personal
letter to one of the fans
and she came storming in here?
Oh my gosh.
Oh my gosh.
Do you have any idea how many times
when I was answering Salinger's letters
I wanted to write my own one back?
- Really?
- Of course.
"Dear Sir, obsess over another writer.
I hear Kurt Vonnegut
answers his own fan mail."
I mean sometimes you just wanna go,
"Hey, loser."
And then others,
they're so engaging.
You just want to
champion them, you know?
Yes, yes, exactly.
But you've crossed the line.
It's a huge rabbit hole
ethically and legally.
I'm taking you off Salinger's mail.
No, no, Hugh, please?
I love these letters so much,
I promise you this won't
happen again, I promise.
- It's all over.
- Judy?
- She's leaving us.
- For whom?
Does it matter?
I were Judy, I would have left too.
Tell me, I'm curious.
Why would you leave?
No, I'm really, really sorry.
I didn't mean that, I just...
I'm just sad to see her leave, that's all.
Well, until you can articulate a reason
that will enlighten us,
you can go back to
typing your dictation
and fetch Daniel's
prescriptions when you're done.
Close the door.
Okay, you think that
when a man falls in love
he doesn't look at
another woman, hm?
But I have news for you,
every man in this world
is looking at every woman in this world
and deciding whether or not-
He wants to fuck her.
She's sexy, right?
Don, I think you might be in a hole.
You maybe wanna stop digging.
You think women don't
look at other men? We do.
We even look at other women.
We just don't drool while we do it.
Booba, booba. I drool
exclusively for you. [SMOOCHES]
- Hey.
- White wine?
No, thanks. I'm gonna go.
I know, I actually
came to give you this.
What's this?
It's from Karl.
He's coming to Washington for a concert.
He really wants you to go.
You've been in touch with Karl?
He wrote you a letter
but you never answered.
- Wednesday in DC.
- Yeah.
What is it?
Someone should go to the meeting
in Washington with Clifford Bradbury.
Make sure that he's prepared,
and walk them to the agency's protocol.
He did sound jittery on the phone.
I can't leave New York,
but I suppose I could send-
- You?
- Me.
Take notes and assist Clifford.
Just let me do this for the agency.
You are to go to Washington,
be the agency's eyes and ears.
Find out who this Clifford person is.
You are to meet with him beforehand
and debrief him afterward.
But you are not to meet with Jerry.
Jerry must think they are
meeting on their own, understood?
You will not regret this.
We'll see about that.
I've got a gift for you.
My birthday was two months ago.
Well, birthdays are for Hallmark.
It's, it's my novel.
You finished it?
Don't you wanna read it?
Oh, of course I do.
Need to surround myself
with beautiful things in
The hope they help
I turn my good
side to the sun
Its healing vibes,
they burn inside out
Mr. Bradbury?
Yes. Joanna?
- Hi.
- Hi.
- Nice to meet you.
- And you.
I've widened the spine see,
to give the book some length
because it's too thin.
I also retyped it all
from the New Yorker.
I didn't scan it and good thing too,
because there were a few small typos.
New Yorker doesn't make typos.
Oh yes, small ones but typos still.
Salinger is such a stickler for details.
- I made two mock-ups.
- Wow.
Do you think I should have made more?
Oh, I think I should've made more, yeah.
Mr. Bradbury, it's gonna go very well.
Just forget everything that you've heard
about Mr. Salinger.
I think that you'll find that
he's very straightforward.
It's important that
you just be yourself.
What happened?
Jerry Salinger paid for my lunch.
But how did it go?
- We agreed on everything.
- That's great.
Because I just missed him then, huh?
- Except the typos.
- What do you mean?
He did not want me to correct them.
Yeah, he seemed peeved
that I fixed them.
You know, I thought
at one point he'd say
let's just forget the
whole thing, you know?
Did he say why?
He wants it printed exactly
as it ran in the New Yorker
as if the typos were
actually intentional,
it makes no sense.
Hey, don't fix any more typos.
Don't tell anybody about the book.
No interviews.
That would ruin the whole deal.
Yeah, we don't want to do that.
Great work, Mr. Bradbury.
My boss is going to
be very pleased, okay?
- Jo!
- Hi.
You got my invitation.
I'm so glad you're here.
You look great.
So do you.
I'm glad you're here, Jo.
I've been wanting to go apologize.
I was angry when I sent you the letter.
I wrote stuff I didn't mean.
No, don't apologize.
You should be angry.
I'm angry at you for
not being angry at me.
Well, I'm not angry and
that's absurd by the way.
You hurt me, and I needed to unleash.
I deserved a proper breakup, you know?
"Karl, I'm leaving you."
The usual stuff.
The usual stuff.
felt depressing when you left.
I didn't read, I didn't
read your letter.
I couldn't make it past Jo.
Nobody else calls me Jo, so...
I want you back in my life.
You know, even if
it's just a phone call
every once in a while.
You were my best friend.
I miss you, Jo.
I miss you too.
- I've learned that as
phony as it may be,
you can't go around revealing
your goddamn emotions to the world.
Most people don't give a flying hoot
about like what you think
and feel most of
the time, I guess.
And if they see a weakness,
I mean why for God's sake is
showing emotion a weakness?
Boy, do they jump all over you, right?
They seem to get right
in your goddamn face
and revel in the fact
that you are actually feeling something.
Is it good?
The manuscript, is it good?
It's interesting.
But you hate it?
I don't hate it, or
maybe I do hate it
and that's why it's good.
- It's weirdly addictive.
- But?
I don't want to read
about his sex life.
No one wants to read
about his sex life.
Maybe I'm just annoyed
by his nonchalance.
Or because?
He's writing and I'm not.
I understand.
What's going on?
Well, keep us posted and thank you.
Apparently he shot himself.
Wait, who, who shot himself?
Daniel, Joanna.
Daniel committed suicide.
The Daniel?
In the living room while
Margaret was in the bedroom.
This can't be right.
Daniel is a beautiful man.
He's sweet, he's kind.
This can't be happening.
But he looked fine.
He was bipolar, Margaret took
care of him all these years.
He was her brother?
Lover, for 20 years.
Wait, are we talking
about the same Daniel?
Daniel was married to
Helen whom you've met.
He lived half the week with Helen
and the other half
with Margaret.
They shared his care.
They shared him.
Margaret shared a man
with another woman?
Joanna, if anyone calls, tell
them she's working from home
and take a message,
and no mention of this.
What about if it's Jerry?
Especially, if it's Jerry.
Can you please do that some other time?
JOANNA: Margaret's office,
Joanna speaking.
JERRY: Hi, Joanna, it's Jerry.
How are you?
- Hi. I'm well, how are you?
- How's the weather down there?
- Muggy.
- Is your boss around?
- No, I'm afraid she's out.
She's been out a lot lately.
Yeah, she's very busy.
Lots of meetings.
Is there anything I
can help you with?
- Let me ask you something.
This Clifford Bradbury fellow.
- Sure.
what do you make of him?
- I like him.
Sometimes I think he
can overthink things,
but he just doesn't wanna let you down.
- Have you been writing every
A lot of days.
They've given me more
responsibility around here.
So I've been reading manuscripts.
- You're a writer,
Joanna, aren't you?
Not an agent, not a secretary?
- I don't know.
- Sorry, I missed that.
I'm a little bit deaf.
- Yes. Yes.
- I'm a writer.
- To write, even if it's just
15 minutes in the morning,
protect that sanctuary, okay?
Don't get stuck answering
the phone, Joanna.
You're a poet.
Riding on any wave
That is the luck you crave
They don't believe it now
They just think it's stupid
So got anything
Anyone could have done
Who would've cared
at all, not you
Another heart has
made the trade
Forget it, forget
it, forget it
I don't understand how
a heart is a spade,
But somehow the vital
connection is made
What's it like working
for the New Yorker?
Well, why don't you come
by the office one day,
we'll show you around.
I would like that very much.
Do you write yourself?
It's okay, we won't tell your boss.
I published two poems
in the Paris Review,
I'm working on some new material.
Well, we'd be happy to take
a look at your material
when you feel it's ready.
That would be great.
That would be really great.
- Well, let's cheers to that.
- Okay.
It's satirical stuff I like.
I know, but the New
Yorker's fiction is a joke
and that soppy talk of the
town thing, [MIMICS RETCHING]
Oh, I'm sorry.
I know you love that shit, that,
"Oh, let's all go meet
up at the Algonquin.
I do so wish you can
join us" bullshit.
So when's the wedding?
It's Columbus Day weekend, right?
Or am I making that up?
It's next weekend, Don.
Joanna, you're coming, right?
Yeah, yeah. Exciting.
You're an asshole.
You know that, right?
I knew that if I told you
about it, you'd start planning
like let's rent a car,
let's stay in this B&B.
What am I gonna wear?
And then you'd buy that dress
and you'd make all these plans,
and then you'd flip out
at me when I told you
that I wanted to go alone.
You wanna go to your best
friend's wedding alone?
Listen, I don't need to justify
myself to you, all right?
- Really?
- Really, booba.
All my bros from Hartford
are gonna be there.
It's gonna be the end of an era,
and I don't wanna have to worry
about whether you're having fun or not.
Right, maybe you'll meet some hot blonde
that wants you to rip her panties off
and fuck her up the ass
and write an unreadable
story about her.
What, where's this coming from?
Where is the sweet naive
girl I met last Christmas,
'cause you know what, I'd
like her back, please booba.
Stop calling me, booba, okay?
I'm not a child.
I call you booba because I love you.
It's what my grandmother
calls my mom.
- You love me?
- Of course.
I mean, would I be here if I didn't?
I told you I've never
lived with a girl before,
you changed me.
You love me, but you don't want me
to go to Mark's wedding?
Look, I am older than you.
I try not to remind you of
this, but it is true, all right?
And one day when you are my age,
you will realize that two
people can love each other
and not agree on everything,
and not have to do everything together.
Do you think I should pack a tie?
Booba? You're good with
this kind of thing.
Like I don't even have
a suit, so you think,
you think just the shirt and a tie?
You're depressed.
I swear, I mean I recognize the symptoms.
I get like that when I'm emotional.
Well, I can get quite emotional.
I'm not depressed.
I'm a very happy person.
Getting a kiss goodbye?
All right, goodbye Joanna.
I think about Holden a lot.
When I first think about him,
I get a stupid grin on my face.
You know, thinking about what
a funny guy he is and all.
Then I usually get depressed as hell
because I only think about Holden
when I'm feeling very emotional.
I can get quiet emotional.
That's what I had become, quiet emotional.
Dear boy from Winston-Salem.
My most profound apologies
for taking so long to reply.
I've been thinking about
your letters for months.
I suppose that
I too can get quite emotional
about things sometimes.
But you're right.
Can't go around revealing your
goddamn emotions to the world
but if you can't reveal
your emotions to the world,
then what are you supposed to do with them?
How do you go on?
'Cause I feel like crying all the time.
Joanna, what is it?
Has something happened at the agency?
No, no, no, everything's fine.
I brought you these, and
some soup from Mangia.
I know you like their mushroom barley.
That's very thoughtful.
You do pay attention, don't you?
You did a fine job on those contracts.
Those electronic clauses,
they'll be the death of publishing.
On the other hand,
engaging with Jerry's
fans was irresponsible,
immature and dangerous.
You know about that?
I have fired assistants for less.
Why didn't you fire me?
Because it's highly unlikely
you will make the same mistake twice.
Also Jerry likes you.
I am reluctant to alter his routine.
I don't wanna be a routine.
I have a couple of stories
from long-term clients.
Read them, and figure
out which magazines
they'd be right for,
and send them out.
What if I don't like them?
Then it's your job to
figure out who will.
Thank you.
Better get back to the office.
Why do you think Judy Blume left?
I'm sorry that I said that.
No, please.
I would like to know what you think.
When you met with Judy, did
you discuss her writing?
The quality of her writing
was never an issue.
Maybe she wasn't looking
for the perfect sales pitch.
Maybe she just wanted
to hear what you thought
about the story,
what it meant to you,
or if you love books the
same way that she loves them.
I'm not sure my love of books
was relevant to that discussion.
Maybe it was relevant to her.
I know it would be to me.
You know, I sold my first
book when I was in my 20s.
It was about this
young woman journalist
in the Spanish Civil War,
and it was actually written by a man.
And yet he seemed to
understand intimately
what it would be like
for her as a woman.
Anyway, I sold the book,
and then my boss said that I
should represent the author.
And naturally I said, yes.
And then like right away,
I started to get nervous, almost panicky.
And what if, what if the author
disappointed me as a person?
And what if I liked the writing,
but not him?
You know, it was about three weeks later
we met for lunch at Elaine's,
and at 9:00 PM, we were still there,
just laughing and talking and sharing
our aspirations and our love of music
and our love of books.
My condolences, Margaret.
I'll pull my socks up.
For months, I had been
touched by anonymous fans.
Touched by their desire
to connect with Salinger.
Their letters had changed me.
The time had come to see for
myself what had moved them.
Salinger's nothing like
I thought, nothing.
He's brutal, brutal and funny.
And I love it.
I love Franny the most.
There's that moment when
the guy in Princeton
is waiting for Franny
at the train station,
and he has the letter in
his pocket, Franny's letter.
And he's read it a thousand
times, he knows it by heart.
But when she gets off
the train and asks,
"Did you get my letter?"
- He says,
- "Which letter?"
Hey, booba.
Thought you'd be at work.
I took the morning off.
I missed you, booba.
Are you going somewhere?
I'm leaving you, Don.
I get it.
This is about the wedding.
Something hit me
while you were gone.
Why are you making a thing out of this?
Listen to me, something
hit me while you were gone.
But they were never really engaged.
I didn't miss you.
I didn't think about you,
not for one second.
Okay, so you needed some
time on your own. I get that.
You can keep the apartment, all right?
You need it more than I do.
You're gonna give me
the, sorry, it's not you,
it's me bullshit?
I should have broke up with you before.
I'm not in love with you.
I'm sorry.
Where you wanna go
Who you wanna be
Are you gonna get there soon
if it don't come naturally
And if it's not now
Then when's the time
There's only so long
you can pay no mind
To the burn inside
If the numbers don't match
Or you would collapse
The only way back
isn't on the map
You gotta march to
the beat of your own
These are my rules
And I put them on my shelf
It doesn't take much
to adjust to another
Holding up themself
But if you're born to fly
I won't step on your wings
You're the only one
and the day has come
You gotta dance to
the beat of your own
I knew you could do it.
I knew it!
Come with me. Hugh!
Stop doing what you're doing.
Max, we're coming into your sanctum.
I have an announcement to make.
What is it?
Joanna has sold a story
I gave her this summer.
Not surprised. Good job.
You're on your way.
Of course she is.
I knew the moment you walked
through the door that
you were agency material.
Now you can start to build
your very own client list.
A most exciting feeling for an agent.
Isn't that right, Max?
For once I have to agree
with Margaret, yes.
We will celebrate at lunch.
Hope you like martinis.
Oh, she'll learn to like them.
You know, we have some authors
who would prefer to
be with you, I think
than an old fogy like me.
Some people I think you'll like.
What is it?
I'm so grateful.
I'm so, so grateful.
You're leaving.
I was planning on talking
to you sometime this week.
But you're doing so well.
I mean you have it in you to
become a really fine agent.
You have good instincts, a good heart.
Thank you.
Thank you, Margaret.
My mind is made up.
Of course I'll stay until
you can find a replacement.
You have other aspirations.
I do.
We just never really talked about anything
other than the agency's business.
It's very true.
But I like working with you.
I like working here.
I really, really do.
There's just other things I want to do.
And I'm afraid that if I don't
do them now, I never will.
I understand.
Hi, Kevin told me to drop
this by at my convenience.
Would you like to give
it to him yourself?
I think he's in.
That would be lovely. Thanks.
Hey there.
Oh, guess who's visiting.
Listen, I'm thinking, if I
was the guy who put myself
on a paper and it came out
as "Catcher In The Rye"
I'd get a bang out of the
bastard writing me a letter
pretending to be able to
do the same, follow me?
Oh, Jerry.
May I introduce you to-
Joanna, it's so good to finally meet you.