THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger [Review]

Catcher in the Rye book

This story is about a young man named Holden Caulfield. He’s just been kicked out of prep school in New York and is dreading having to explain to his parents that he’s been thrown out of yet another school. Rather than going straight home he decides to spend a couple days on his own in New York, since his expulsion letter won’t reach his parents for a few days (this was before e-mail). Along the way, Holden has some adventures and basically uses the time to reflect on his life. Throughout the book we learn more about the Holden’s past and it helps us to understand his present situation.

I love this book for a million reasons, reasons that seem to keep changing as I get older. When I was a young teen I loved Catcher mostly because of the PG-13 content. At that time Holden was my hero. Even though the book was written in the mid 1940s, Holden has a very punk rock attitude towards authority that I dug. In my later teens and early college years I found myself relating to Holden’s pessimistic attitude towards the human race. There’s one part in the book where Holden notices someone has written a bad four letter word on the wall, so he moves on, only to notice it written again, and again. Then he sort of gets down on the fact that if he had all the time in the world he wouldn’t be able to erase even half of the 4 letter words that people have tagged on city walls. It’s sort of depressing when you think about it.

Salinger has this great ability to identify the little idiosyncrasies and personality defects that people possess and he puts them in his characters in a way that makes you think (yes! I hate when people do that!). He’s also great at writing an awkward moment. It could be something small like an elderly man throwing a magazine on a bed and missing, and it actually makes you cringe as you read it. Modern day artists like Ricky Gervais and David Sedaris have always reminded me of Salinger in the way that they understand it’s the little mannerisms and quirks that make people so vulnerable and interesting.

When I read Catcher now, as I am approaching my 30s, I realize that Holden is just an idiot kid. We were all idiots when we were 17 years old, and Holden is no exception. What impresses me now is Salinger’s ability, more than 60 years later, to have a character that we can all still relate to and love.

Buy Cacther in the Rye by J.D. Salinger on Amazon by clicking here.

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