Here is another book review, this one is over J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye“. A classic read which people still buy to this day, as 250,000 copies are still sold each year, with total book sales of approximately 65 million (wowza, #winning, #killingit).
This novel was written in 1951 and was quite controversial at the time. It was an adult novel in design but due to the themes expressed within it adolescent readers fell in love with it. This in essence most likely fueled the viewpoints associated with Holden Caulfield, the main protagonist of the novel, who has become a cultural icon associated with teenage development and rebellion. My opinion is that the Salinger, having returned home from WWII, was a bit shell shocked. This allowed him to create a colorful and deeply complex book which enshrouded issues such as self-identity, loss, belonging, and the feeling of alienation when you are NOT belonging. The novel has won multiple awards and the lifestyle of Salinger himself has seemed to aid in wrapping this book with intrigue. It was included in the Time’s 2005 list of the 100 best english-language novels (do they really segregate lists like that? no wonder no one buys their paper). It was placed in the 100 best english-language novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library. It also got the #15 spot in 2003 on the BBC’s survey The Big Read. Obviously It’s critically acclaimed.
What I loved about it:
Holden Caufield is a snapshot of the common teenager. Unsure of himself but also sure of himself but also lets go buy a hooker but just like, talk and stuff because i’m unsure of myself, OH and I have no money. Seriously, his character spans this whole spectrum of characters, because he is so real. His is young and confused, like some of us who are old and confused. He is a young man looking at the world in his hands with a “What am I supposed to do with this?” attitude. A feeling perhaps that Salinger felt upon surviving and returning from his military service. One could imagine that many men did not expect to make it home, but he did. So it is not too far fetched to think that perhaps he was left with a “what now” mentality. Perhaps the drive to create this book saved him, as he worked on it throughout his years trekking across Europe.
Regardless of the Author’s intent however, Holden holds his own by himself. He has become something, someone. His confusion and inability to decide what he wants or who he wants to be, his lackluster attempts at fitting in and succeeding in academia, it all hits home for every child. The way he views the world is exactly the way he would be expected to view the world, and that same view, construed and trying to make sense of things, is merely another connectable bridge to the reader. What Holden lacks, his friends, enemies, and acquaintances make up for. The book was created to be timeless, and from the continued sells, this attribute was achieved.
This book covers the whole social spectrum, and invokes in us no matter our age, a nostalgic presence of mind. Unless you are a teenager, then it just makes you want to jump a train and go find some booze. Which is going to probably happen anyways so…well…if there were more trains around here. why the lack of trains anyways? #lame.
What I didn’t:
Seriously, not enough rye catching. No one even makes bread in this thing.
If you haven’t read this then you need to crawl out from under your rock already. Though I think it is better suited towards the adolescent audience, despite it’s airy and scatter brained scenes, I think there is a certain romanticism within it that speaks to the older generations. As a young reader, my first impression of the book was one of connection, which is why it most likely does so well. Having read it again years later, you can feel your younger self rubbing your established beliefs and goals raw. You could possibly even feel a tinge of regret. Everyone feels this feeling of world weariness and confusion as you try to make sense of your surroundings and strange bodily functions whilst growing up. Mix in the social aspect with it’s mashed up servings of bullies or #haters (yeah I said it and I put a hashtag in the front because I’m edgy) and overall mixed cues (which continues on into your adult years in some cases) and you end up with something that transcends the novel and its characters. This book is a guide to sanity, by showing us we are insane. I give it a hearty 4.4 out of 5 stars.