19 May 2010

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger

(Hardcover, 277 pages)


Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

I really liked this book, and I’m not completely sure why! It's simply a rambling journey of 16 year old Holden-and his misadventures, it is not the most engaging and brilliant of stories. I think many who read it will find a piece of themselves inside Holden's thoughts. I was surprised that this book didn’t have a plot, per se, but it’s an interesting story while Holden searches for himself and his role in society. If you are interested in an honest representation of a youth's struggle with his impending adulthood, you should read The Catcher in the Rye, or just read it so you’ll know what everyone else is talking about.

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