The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (21 November)


So… I never read this in school. Ever. Which is apparently some kind of sacrilege on the part of my school district, because it seems like everyone else has read this! Alas. And I think my teachers’ oversight has led to me not liking this book as much as the aforementioned “everyone else” seems to. I don’t know.

I think that an appropriate subtitle for this novel would be “Three Days in the Life of Holden Caulfield,” because (unless I miscounted the number of days, which is possible), that’s what this book is. Holden gets kicked out of school, decides not to wait until the semester break to come home and skips out early, stays in a hotel in his hometown of New York City to avoid his parents until the official expulsion letter comes, decides to run off to the West Coast, and then doesn’t.

I hope that didn’t spoil it for you, but it shouldn’t since the story is in the details. Example: Holden spends a lot of time at the beginning of the story describing just how ordinary (and lame) his school and his schoolmates are, including a very squick-inducing description of a boy with oozing acne lying down on Holden’s pillow. -twitch- That’s gross, dudes.

This book really reminded me of a compacted On the Road, with the general dissatisfaction with life and the grand plans that don’t really come to fruition. It didn’t quite resonate with me so much, though, which might be a function of being eight years older and wiser than Holden and thus having survived the crap that is high school. I don’t know. Opinions?

Rating: 7/10
(Reading Dangerously Challenge)

See also:
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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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3 thoughts on “The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (21 November)

  1. Tina Kubala says:

    I know more people who don't like the books as people that do. I like it. Very much. I read it my senior year and have read it several times since.

    It is a very different book as a grown up. I can see Holden's madness more clearly then I could as a teen who could relate to some of his issues. Now, I look at him and think psychiatric diagnosis. But the inner thoughts of most teenagers are scary like that.

    I like your comparison to On The Road. I wonder what Salinger would think of the idea.

  2. H. Justice says:

    I don't like the comparison to On the Road. I think Salinger is a genre onto his self, being a visionary in the literary cannon. I can't say the novel is plot driven, which a lot of readers not commonly engaged in our pop-culture contextualised habits come to expect. Stylistically, it's brilliant, and the characters are achieved with a complexness I think most overlook. I give it a 9/10 too.

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