The Catcher in the RyeAugust 7, 2015
by J. D. Salinger
For some reason I now forget, I didn’t read this book in high school, so I’m about 40 years late to the party. And it seems as if everyone left the celebration a long time ago. Rarely has a book dragged on so long and been such a chore to finish for me. (Well, with the exception of Finders Keepers, but I’m determined to finish this one.)
I certainly get how groundbreaking and shocking The Catcher in the Rye was when it came out in 1951–the language; this boy’s detachment, depression, and pain; the sexual suggestiveness. But I just can’t take one more page of Holden’s whining, his 180-degree turns from loving something to hating it (or vice versa), his anxiety, his patois (it may have been groundbreaking, but if you’ve ever spent time with a teen nowadays, it’s just so common and annoying). I find it almost impossible to sustain my interest in Holden, such an unsympathetic character. His (somewhat) redeeming characteristic is his love for his sister and the attention and care with which he looks upon children. It’s what’s familiar, where he has been versus where he has yet to go: growing up.
I’ll be the first to admit that perhaps the book hits too close to home and calls up a lot of my own teenage angst, depression, and fear. But oftentimes it feels artless in its balls-out, screeching screed. Maybe something will change my mind. I’m so disappointed in the book because it’s the product of 40 years of galloping hype. I wanted to like it more. I just didn’t.