An invaluable portrait of a young woman's coming-of-age. Equally fascinating for what we now know of its critical reception 20 years ago. Joyce Maynard's 1998 memoir tells the story of how a teen girl with ambition and talent in the 1970s evolved as a writer over the course of decades— how her voice was shaped early on by the voice of her mother, then, later, by the voice of J.D. Salinger, with whom she had an intense emotional and sexual relationship. This memoir is clutch-to-your-chest Intimate. People and places come to absolute life on the page. It is relevant to the discussions we are having right now about gender and power. I also simply loved reading the story of a writer: from her first assignment, to her first book deal; through it all, seeing how her perspective shifts, her voice matures. Fortunately for us all, Maynard comes to the understanding that the story of her relationship with Salinger (a man 35 years her senior, and a powerful, cult-like figure in the literary world she hopes to occupy) is her story, too. In this memoir, she tells it.— Morgan
New York Times bestselling author of Labor Day
When it was first published in 1998, At Home in the World set off a furor in the literary world and beyond. Joyce Maynard's memoir broke a silence concerning her relationship—at age eighteen—with J.D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, then age fifty-three, who had read a story she wrote for The New York Times in her freshman year of college and sent her a letter that changed her life. Reviewers called her book "shameless" and "powerful" and its author was simultaneously reviled and cheered.
With what some have viewed as shocking honesty, Maynard explores her coming of age in an alcoholic family, her mother's dream to mold her into a writer, her self-imposed exile from the world of her peers when she left Yale to live with Salinger, and her struggle to reclaim her sense of self in the crushing aftermath of his dismissal of her not long after her nineteenth birthday. A quarter of a century later—having become a writer, survived the end of her marriage and the deaths of her parents, and with an eighteen-year-old daughter of her own—Maynard pays a visit to the man who broke her heart. The story she tells—of the girl she was and the woman she became—is at once devastating, inspiring, and triumphant.
About the Author
Joyce Maynard was born and raised in New Hampshire. She is the author of several books, including To Die For, Where Love Goes, Domestic Affairs, Baby Talk, and her memoir Looking Back, which she wrote at the age of eighteen. Joyce Maynard has written for many national publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Parenting and Good Housekeeping. She lives in Mill Valley, California, with her three children.
“Unsparing self-scrutiny...maturity and emotional candor.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Absorbing, funny, and emotionally blistering.” —Jules Siegel, San Francisco Chronicle
“A wry, painful, engaging book.” —Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes
“Maynard's testimony is priceless.” —Mary Cantwell, Vogue
“Riveting and disturbing.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Even Salinger loyalists may feel compelled to reexamine their idol.” —Glamour
“Dazzling.” —San Francisco Chronicle