I’ve decided to come up with a new segment, which is a pretty thinly disguised way of saying “listen to me go on about things I like.” Which I super appreciate by the way.  Basically, I love books.  I think they’re fantastic.  Not only do they take you to another world, entertain the heck out of you, provide lovely imaginations of cute boys who either don’t exist, or if they did, would just be a creep (*cough Edward Cullen *cough), most importantly, books are a fantastic defence mechanism to avoid the drop-kids on the public transport system.  Sorry, I can’t chat, I’m reading this very important young adult fiction on a dystopian future that we don’t actually live in.

You get what I mean.

However, although I try to read all the time, sometimes the books I read just aren’t that fantastic.  And I’m one of those lazy reviewers who’d rather not review a book I didn’t enjoy.  Because it’s probably be something along the lines of “This book was terrible.  Don’t read it.  Use it at toilet paper instead.”  And not only is that not interesting for you, but I could end up being sued*

So.  The new section.  Basically, every now and then you’ll get a review/rant/rambling of one of my favourite books!  This week, the iconic The Catcher In The Rye, by J D Salinger.

Published in 1951, The Catcher In The Rye was the only full-length novel that recluse writer J D Salinger wrote, and it is loosely based on his own feelings as an adolescent.  Set in December 1949, mostly in New York, the story is from the perspective of our narrator, 16 year old Holden Caulfield.  While many complain that there isn’t really a ‘plot’ in the novel, the central themes, and most importantly, the feelings that Caulfield go through, have stood the test of time, and are just as important 60 years later as it was when it was first written.

I think Holden is utterly fantastic.  He’s a little shit, he’s egotistical, he’s your typical rich white-boy who creates problems for himself.  SO WHAT?  Isn’t that the entire point of being a teenager?  I know I did it.  Damn, I’m in my twenties and I still do it.  But that’s what Salinger captures so perfectly.  Holden is someone who looks like his life is perfect, but it isn’t.  He doesn’t fit it, he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, and most importantly, and sadly, he doesn’t really care.  He isn’t motivated by anything, since the only thing he really cared about was his brother, Allie, who died when he was a young boy.

And as a result, that’s where he wants to be; childhood, a place that seems so absolutely perfect now that we’re not in it.

Furthermore, what I loved about the narration style is that while Holden is a very unhappy person, he’s also ridiculously funny, and true.  He spends hours worrying about whether his luggage makes his roommate feel inferior, and he obsessives over how to impress a girl that he’s not all that interested in.

Be honest.  We’ve all done this (well, maybe not the luggage thing).

And, although he is completely messed up in his own life, he has a clarity that a lot of younger people have.  He knows that the real world is full of ‘phoneys’ because they are working their arses off to live a life they don’t really care about.  He knows that he’s a fantastic liar, and he is essentially set up for life, but he also thinks it’s truly awful.

The Catcher In The Rye was banned in parts of America, and in the 1960s a teacher was briefly fired for adding it to the syllabus.  Of course, if you tell a teenager not to do something, that’s exactly what they’re going to do.  Needless to say, The Catcher In The Rye was popular.

Overall, the best thing about this novel is that it connects with an audience that often feels alienated.  Teenagers live in a space unto themselves; they’re not children, yet they don’t have the responsibilities that adults have.  And while many authors have tried and failed so miserably at trying to connect with them as an audience, Salinger hits the nail on the head.  Probably because, despite being an adult, he felt alienated himself.

Time and time again movie executives have tried to turn The Catcher In The Rye into a film.  Every time, J D Salinger has vehemently been opposed to the idea.  However, he died in 2010, so perhaps this may  change.  Personally, I don’t think this should be translated to the screen (yes, I get the irony considering the point of this blog).  It’s a novel that isn’t about the plot, or most of the characters, but rather the feelings and nuances that an average teenage boy feels.  Basically, there’s a really high chance of film makers screwing it up.

Have you read The Catcher In The Rye?  What did you think of it?  Were you a fan of Holden Caulfield?  Did you connect with the story at all?  Let me know!

*Unlikely, but I chose to think real authors read this blog.

the catcher in the rye by j d salinger

Got my very own at home-(image taken from http://www.darcymore.net)