September 04, 2012

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Believe it or not I somehow made it through high school and college without reading this book.  Even more incredulous, I'd never really heard anything about it other than it was considered a classic.  And now for the humour, due to the name of the book, I thought it was going to be about life on a farm and harvests.  Yeah, I was definitely wrong.

Holden is a teenage boy who has just been kicked out of his school for failing most of his classes.  As the term has not quite let out for winter yet, he is still on campus, but after an altercation decides to leave and explore the big bad streets of New York by himself.  Here he gets himself into mild trouble, almost sleeps with a prostitute, and generally just gambles around talking to himself and attempts to keep himself entertained.  This is all done while expressing a genuine dissatisfaction at the world around him.

Holden is not an endearing character.  Sure he has his moments when it comes to little glimmers of helpfulness and appreciation in him, but for the most part he's just not that likable.  And I really think that was the intention.  He is not your general hero and instead portrays a depressed, ego-centric, angst-ridden teenager.  Which is probably immediately identifiable to a big portion of the population.  Especially those who are his age as well.  There are other characters in the novel as well but we only see them through Holden's eyes.  Therefore, if he likes them they are described in glowing terms, like his sister, or if he doesn't like them he makes sure you know it, like his roommate at the school.  But in the end, when it comes to Holden himself, I really didn't care what happened either way to him.

There wasn't a normal plot to this book.  It kind of just rambled on like Holden's stream of consciousness without a break.  I actually found it kind of hard to read as I'm not fond of the stream of consciousness type of writing.  It works ok in the movies when a person is actually talking, but in writing it doesn't translate as well or lend itself to being readable.  That being said it was a rather tragic book and a good look at how people can feel lost at times.  But I won't say I enjoyed it.  I actually found the book pretty average.  Maybe not worth the hype it's been given, but not anything I'd say I'd hate either.  At most I'll probably remember it for a few days and move on as it didn't spark anything in me.

I can't see myself reading anything else by Salinger.  But this wasn't as excruciating or as wonderful as I thought it would be judging by others opinions.  It simply was out there.

The Catcher in the Rye
Copyright 1945
214 pages

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