Monday, January 9, 2012
Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
Pages: 214 (depending on the version you read)
Genre: Coming of Age
Summary (from Goodreads.com)
Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories—particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme—With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is fully of children. The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.
Now that I’ve read Catcher in the Rye, I’m starting to see a little bit of Holden here and there in the books I read. I think Holden is a lonely, lost teenager, and an angry one at that. I like him because he doesn’t edit what he has to say when he talks, he’s blunt. But I don’t like him because he is sort of a hypocrite. I also got tired of the “Goddamn’s” in the story, yet the “phony’s,” although tired of them, actually amused me.
I read this book for English, and I think that’s why I didn’t get as much as I could have out of it. I felt like it was work to read it and of course, I would have read it even if it wasn’t for English, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it on my own terms.
But if I wrapped it all up, I would say that the book is extremely negative, yet is funny. I think that everyone can find a something about Holden that they can relate to. The parts of Holden that I found myself relating to, were the fact that he didn’t care about being popular and being antisocial was what he was okay with. I found that even though being alone is nice, that you do get lonely, and then you want to talk to someone. And it doesn’t matter who it is really, especially when you’re alone. But, I don’t think I would ever in this lifetime find myself talking to nuns. Personally, sometimes I felt if I were sitting in a coffee shop or somewhere and Holden came up to me and wanted to buy me a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) I would wonder what his intentions were, and think “weirdo” and then possibly eventually come to the conclusion that he’s simply lonely and not some creeper, or up to something.
Overall, the book was interesting, gross in parts, grossly hilarious in others, and I still feel like I missed out on a bunch of what Holden was saying and what was happening, so I’ll return to the novel in time. Meanwhile the phrase “Goddam skates” continues to ring in my head for some crude reason.