Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Catcher in the Rye

I first read The Catcher in the Rye in high school and must have read it at least a dozen times since. I've owned multiple copies, but I frequently give it away if I meet someone who hasn't read it yet. It's on my Top Five for sure.

I suggested it for our last book club, trepidation, because I actually hadn't read it for quite a few years and I wasn't sure if I would still love it as much as I have before, also I was afraid someone else's possible negative reaction would spoil my own. But, it turns out I loved it as much as I ever did (and I think everyone else in book club enjoyed it quite a bit too!)

Re-reading it again, I realized how much the language of the book influenced me as a kid. I used to say that I got a "bang" out of things all the time, a reference only appreciated by my sister and perhaps my friend L. This time around, Holden's criticism of corny music effected me. Now when I'm listening to the radio, I'm like, "Jesus Christ, that IS pretty corny."

There are many things I love, but, just to name a few, I just go crazy over Salinger's narrative structure. It really shines in his short stories, which I've been re-reading this year, but in this novel, what's remarkable is you go on this long journey with the main character, it feels epic. And then, when you think about it, it's a matter of days. I was thinking about tracking the whole thing, kind of like in a day planner, to see how it laid out.

I also love how Holden is a untrustworthy narrator, and the reader needs to decide who to trust - for example, in one scene, his friend tells him to stop shouting and he says he's not shouting, just excited.

What I'm excited about is the possibility of more stories coming from the Salinger estate. He reported hated working with publishers, so we'll see if anything is published now that he's passed away.

1 comment:

the Little Red Bird said...

I didn't read Catcher in the Rye until I was 18 - and I can't believe that I waited so long. Holden is such an interesting character that has a lot to say about growing up.

It's unfortunate that Salinger didn't have good relationships with publishers or film studios. I read somewhere that he put a clause in some legal paperwork that even after he died, the rights to his stories could not be sold for years.