Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I started and finished Catcher In The Rye this past Monday. Somehow, I had made it through my years of schooling without ever having to read that book. A friend who is an English teacher was aghast when she learned I had successfully avoided the novel this long.

Did I like the novel? It wasn't terrible. I can't say I related to Holden Caulfield, but he did remind me of people I know. Despite time, the book somewhat holds up. Had I read this in high school, I probably would have tossed into the same pile as A Separate Peace. I get it, but I found it tedious. I didn't find the characters "likeable." It's hard to not want to smack them upside the head and tell them to sort it out. Of course, not playing by the game is part of the problem for Holden.

Outside the pages, I have friends like this. Everyone does. They were like that in high school, and many haven't changed. It can be frustrating to sit by and not know what to say, or if you should say anything, as you watch a friend continue in manners that are self-defeating, self-destructive, or perhaps merely immature.

Maybe that's why I didn't like "Catcher" so much. I have enough of that in the real world. And maybe I don't like the book because it makes me aware of the fact that people I care about are disappointing to me. I like to think of people in the best light, but it doesn't take away from the fact that we're all flawed. Everyone has to sort things out for themselves, in whatever way they must, but it's hard to sit back and let them do just that.


Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts.

My CITR would be "Clerks." At one point in my life, it said everything about who I was, where I wasn't going, and the messed up world around me.

Then I rewatched it a while back and it wasn't me anymore. It wasn't even all that funny when I wasn't in that place.

I wanted to reread CITR when I saw it on the shelf, as I feel I should read more literature. Holden just never really caught me enough to keep reading, though.

Luis Baars said...

I never related with Holden Caulfield either...and I never really "got" Catcher in the Rye.

Funny you mentioned this today, check out this interview with John Scalzi:

At around 15:30 they start talking about Holden and give a pretty good description as to why they never related to Holden either.

Steve Lafreniere said...

I couldn't agree with you more re Catcher In the Rye. It's weird that it's considered anything at this point, when so many books have captured the same idea much better. What's strange to me is that Gen Z, or whatever they are now, is so into mediocrities like Holden, Hunter S. Thompson, and Charles Bukowski.

Erin said...

I also read this as an adult, and didn't really connect with it in any positive way. A good friend of mine, who named her son Holden, was aghast. ;) Fortunately, I've so far avoided having to teach it. Heh.

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