Shana’s review of The Catcher in the Rye > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Haha, I don't think I could have put it better. I had the same experience!

message 2: by Jil (new)

Jil YES! YES!!!!

message 3: by David (new)

David J. Nice to see I am not the only one who hated this book. Maybe in a few years I'll go back and try it again...maybe, but not likely.

message 4: by Eva Grace (new)

Eva Grace I agree!

It's possibly one of the most overrated books ever. I think it's one of those that people say they like to give them a bit of 'edge' or whatever. They say they like it more to impress others than because they actually do.

Of course that's a sweeping generalisation and I'm sure there are people out there who do genuinely like it. However, I think that they are a lot fewer than it appears.

message 5: by Julie (new)

Julie You were able to eloquently describe (as I never have been able to) my experience with this book. Thank you!

message 6: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Lee I knew I wasn't the only one who didnn't like the book.

message 7: by Biosyd (new)

Biosyd I think there is a whole subset of books that certain people(critics) deem great works, when in fact they are not anygood at all. Sometimes we(myself included) get caught up in reading what is popular. I've stumbled on quite a few gems that I would rather have my teen read. You are also right about Seventeen magazine. Back in my day, it was actually good for teens. Now they talk about a lot of crap, just to keep up with a small segment of our teen society.

message 8: by Taylor (new)

Taylor Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found that you too had used the expression "I get it" no less than twice in your review! Dickens mastered the art of poking gentle fun at his characters and permitting his readers the priviledge of discovering the joke being played. The trick was in the sublety of how C.D. took his characters down a peg, and in the interweaving of the joke within the context of a larger message or story. Salinger has neither the subtlety of the joke nor the larger journey to tell the joke within.

message 9: by John (new)

John This book is amazing. It has changed my life, and I stay up till one in the morning to read it every night. I feel better when I read the book. The things that you describe to be the reasons that you do not enjoy the book are part of life. People deny these things, try to hide them from their children. Thats terrible, to hide the world from children.

message 10: by Jenny (new)

Jenny This book was strange for me and I disliked it. I heard that two people tried to kill someone else after reading this book. One of them succeeded ( I think it was Mark David Chapman who killed John Lennon ). What a nice book huh?

message 11: by BK (new)

BK Blue I am so happy to discover that I am not the only one that feels this way. I had heard the glowing reviews about it too, and borrowed it from a friend. Like you, I get it. But I still don't like it.

It's not really the message, it's the way it was delivered. I think Taylors comment explained this best.

And honestly, Holden just got on my damn nerves. ;)

message 12: by Marisa (new)

Marisa THANK YOU for saying it. You captured my own experience perfectly with this review.

message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Yes. Yes. Yes. and let me add my name to the list of people who are tired of hearing that the reason that they don't like it is either that they don't "get it" or that they must be squeamish about "the truth". Um,'s just BAD WRITING. Thank You.

message 14: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Each time I read this book I discover another profound meaning that I hadn't seen before. This book is my touchstone to the truths that 95% of the world blindly or consciously denies. At times Houlden's continual cynicism does get tiring but I would never argue that the book is "overrated". I have never read anything like it and I've read dozens of coming of age books that mirror adolescent cynicism.

message 15: by Stephanie (last edited Sep 13, 2009 03:09PM) (new)

Stephanie Your review is pretty much exactly how I feel about Catcher.

A dear friend of mine recommended this to me a long while ago, telling me it was life-changing, etc. I finally sat down to read it, got half-way through, and was so disgusted I shut it and never went back.

I will never be able to admit to her that her favorite book of all time is easily one of the least enjoyable things I've ever read. I hope I can overcome my shame one day!

message 16: by Don Incognito (new)

Don Incognito It's okay to dislike this book. I'll probably never own it.

message 17: by yuna (new)

yuna kudo I cannot agree more.
I'm a sophomore, and I had to read this book for class too, and I definitely did not like it.
I had really high expectations for it as well, since some people were absolutely in love with it.
But I thought that this book was just packed with Holden complaining endlessly about everyone else, and I was just sick of it by the time I finished reading the book.

message 18: by Don Incognito (last edited Feb 07, 2010 09:31AM) (new)

Don Incognito You'll probably like critic Jonathan Yardley's review.

message 19: by Matthew (new)

Matthew was going to buyit today, you just saved me 8$

message 20: by Paul (new)

Paul Brandel I agree with you Shana.It was so lame that I stopped
reading it after 30 pages!What a MAJOR letdown.

ara133photography Shana, I feel the exact same way.

message 22: by Emily (new)

Emily One of my favourite parts about the book was acually the fact that Holden wasn't likable.

message 23: by El (new)

El Matthew, I hope you finally spent the 8$, this is one the most powerful books I have ever read, it can change the way you see the world.

message 24: by Don Incognito (new)

Don Incognito How?

message 25: by booklady (new)

booklady “A cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yes we can learn things from cynics like Holden Caulfield but I think we learn much more from kindness, patience, dedication, humility, honesty, selflessness, gentleness, etc. Any empathy I wanted to have for him as a character -- and I did want to empathize with him at times -- kept getting sabotaged by his own choices.

Great review Shana!

message 26: by Laura (new)

Laura Stoker Thank you! I understand what this book is saying, like you, however, like yourself, I don't like that. I am tired of being told that I clearly am missing the point with 'Catcher' and that is the reason I hate it when that isn't the case. I get everything about the character, I understand what he's trying to say, but that doesn't make me like him or like the novel itself. I am not a fan of how it was written either as I found it failed to engage me as I hoped it would. Let's put it this way, I won't be reading it again.

message 27: by Lyn (new)

Lyn Thanks for the great review Shana, you know I have NEVER read it....amazing really, always was going to read it....

message 28: by Sprok (new)

Sprok Completely agree. For me this is one of the most grossly over-rated books ever written.

message 29: by Seth (new)

Seth Strange to criticize a book negatively (referring to the link) for being emotionally manipulative. Show me fiction that doesn't want to "push buttons" or manipulate emotions and I'll show you stereo instructions.

message 30: by Leonid (new)

Leonid Judging by your prose and those that agree (mainly Americans as I see and I wonder why...) the key here is not the book but your personality which prevents you from liking this book. It's comparable to those that hate a book because it portrays their nation or race in a bad light. American, flimsy, superficial pretentiousness and triviality is combined in this novel and made human. One could say an American is made universally, multiculturally human in this book as it pierces though the veil of smugness and of holier-than-thou attitudes and lays bare the basic kinks and springs underneath. I can so completely relate to Holden that disliking him would be hypocritical. Yes, the novel can be a tad too perceptive to some but it is also a tribute to Americans that this book is considered one of the greats.

message 31: by Laura (new)

Laura Stoker So what about me? The English person who still cannot like this book?

message 32: by Don Incognito (new)

Don Incognito Leonid wrote: "Judging by your prose and those that agree (mainly Americans as I see and I wonder why...) the key here is not the book but your personality which prevents you from liking this book. It's comparabl..."

Yup. Those nasty Americans. The world needed a novel like this to bring them down a bit. Like my French teacher said, "Oh, you Americans!"

message 33: by Seth (new)

Seth The depravity themes in that book are universal. Only the willfully blind could attribute them to targeting America alone. It's a human theme, not a nationalistic one.

message 34: by Leonid (last edited Feb 14, 2011 01:43AM) (new)

Leonid Laura wrote: "So what about me? The English person who still cannot like this book?"

Well you are a teen, or read the book when you were one no? And although you will probably despise me for saying it (shouldn't be but...) there's not a huge difference between Brits and Americans. Come to think of it I don't think the Yanks would mind being bunched in with the Limeys all that much but not so for the Great Britain. Rather one sided and curious that... Yes I know, I'm soooo politically incorrect.

Anyhow, what I'm saying is the book needs one to be humble and self critical to understand, relate to and like Holden. Very few teens are capable of both at the same time. And America as a nation does not tend to be either humble nor self critical. Great attitude to build an empire but not so much for reading The Catcher in the Rye. The book is considered one of the top 10 American books and by Americans no less, which is a testament to America, yet an average US teen (or any teen for that matter) is unlikely to enjoy this book for reasons listed above.

P.S. There's always the possibility you just didn’t like the book for no other reason than that. Why that is I could not answer but what I wrote assumes there's more to your dislike of the book than merely being bored by it.

message 35: by Leonid (new)

Leonid Seth wrote: "The depravity themes in that book are universal. Only the willfully blind could attribute them to targeting America alone. It's a human theme, not a nationalistic one."

“Depravity”…? Are we talking about the same Holden? Getting drunk and smoking is not exactly rape, theft and murder. I wouldn’t consider Holden depraved in the least. He’s an average kid with an above average ability of self expression. He hates bullies, phonies and rigidity of the everyday monotony; hardly a villain.
Also, Holden is supposed to be American no? Yes, the message of the book is universal but Holden isn’t. He is an American teen and his predicament only has merit in the US and in the context of the American life. So yes, an American who lacks the ability to criticize American values is more likely to be irritated by Holden than other nationalities.

message 36: by Seth (last edited Feb 14, 2011 11:28AM) (new)

Seth The theme of depravity in the world comes from Holden's narration, that he believes (even though he is a famously unreliable narrator) the world is sick. That people are phonies because they are disguising a deviant nature that they are afraid to show other people (symbolized by a distinguished-looking man prancing about in women's clothes, and his brother "prostituting" himself out to Hollywood).

Holden is American, yes, but that does not isolate his predicament to the context of American life, because more importantly than being American, Holden is human. I seriously doubt that Salinger meant to convey that "flimsy, superficial pretentiousness and triviality" is uniquely American because it is not. Salinger was going deeper then that. And I have found that the great books of the world tend to cover social themes, yet their universality is founded on personal, human themes that most people can identify with. And that is why people consider them great, because they recognize themselves in characters and situations which seem to have no relation to them. We are more alike than we are different.

The idea that someone may not like the book probably has more to do with the fact that they recognize Holden's inconsistency with his own opinions, which is what the original post referred to. I don't know how that gets twisted around into the claim that those who dislike the book are resistant to criticizing their own culture.

message 37: by Leonid (last edited Feb 15, 2011 02:23AM) (new)

Leonid Seth wrote: "The theme of depravity in the world comes from Holden's narration, that he believes (even though he is a famously unreliable narrator) the world is sick. That people are phonies because they are di..."

I am glad that you are very specific because we agree on a number of points however; the few points of disagreement that we have render everything prior invalid. Consider that I too believe that Holden sees a large number of people, not all but many, as being “phonies”. I also believe that these people are “disguising their nature”. However I completely disagree that the “nature” of these people as Holden means us to see it is necessarily “deviant”. I don’t think Holden, or Salinger, ever implies this. The fact that these men are pretending to be something they are not is the point of irritation and angst for Holden and not that these people are evil underneath. Also in regards to the comment of Holden’s as to how his brother is “prostituting” himself in Hollywood; I do not believe that was meant with any sort of condemnation whatever. I mean what Holden is saying is that his brother is wasting a great talent writing for Hollywood and making lots of money. Holden is praising his brother. Holden’s brother is portrayed as a positive character in the story showing us Salinger’s view on the same matter. I believe you see a little too much negativity in the story. The value of this tale is that it is the average teenage experience told in an extraordinarily personal way.
All I was saying is that “American” teens are most likely to see themselves reflected in Holden and that they are simpler and more naïve than they think they are; as all teens are… etc. Holden is American and the gravity, or the lack thereof, in his experience can only be truly evaluated living in North America. To those reading this book in other parts of the world, translated into their native tongue, Holden’s experiences could mean different things. It is the message of the book that remains universal. The universal theme is that at the end Holden realizes what is truly dear to him and with that finds a fresh flavour for life. I never implied that the book has some fundamental criticism of America only that it depicts the American experience and that American teens maybe irritated by Holden because they see his negatives in themselves but not the positives. “Flimsy, superficial pretentiousness and triviality” is common to all teens… and not only teens; but again this tale was presented in an American setting etc…
In all, we clearly do see some key points of the book differently as while I do believe that Americans can find more meaning in this book than other nationalities I do not see any “deviant” nature implied by the book in those same Americans. I suppose that makes you more of a critic no?

message 38: by Seth (last edited Feb 15, 2011 09:07AM) (new)

Seth Yes I think we do disagree on the point of deviant nature. You brought up the point of evil. While I do have my own ideas on the nature of evil in man, I didn't actually say that Holden thinks they are evil. I believe Holden's view of his brother as a prostitute, by default makes the entire industry of Hollywood to be the pimp. That's not exactly a shining critique of the human experience. I see negativity in the book, only in the sense that one of the many themes in the book covers the idea that negative traits we see in others, we carry ourselves. Very well, we can agree to disagree about that.

In your first argument, you said that it was her personality that prevented her from liking the book. I just don't see where the evidence can be for that, since the implication that Holden is like every teenager in America is a gross generality. Some people will enjoy the book because they may identify with him, or just the opposite, because they do not. They could dislike the book for the same reasons.

We could debate for hours how much every American teen is like Holden, and that people dislike the book because they see too much of themselves in it. But, it would be an endless circle, because there is no proof in the end of that being the reason.

I liked Holden. I liked him alot, and still do. But I could see how he could be grating, especially to a reader who sees something in his character, like his massive ego and his judgment against everyone but himself, that he does not see in himself yet. I think that is valid reason.

message 39: by Lisa (new)

Lisa I'm 56 and you captured my own feelings on reading the book back in the late 1960s. I didn't like it then, and I keep thinking I should give it another chance. But really there was nothing about it that draws me to reading it again. Thanks for your eloquent review!

message 40: by Sarch (new)

Sarch I'm sad for you.

message 41: by Don Incognito (new)

Don Incognito John wrote: "You don't get it. I don't get a lot of great art either but I respect it's greatness. This book is great art whether you get it or not."

You think it's great art even when you don't understand it? That makes no sense; taken at face value, it means you think it's great art but you have no idea why it is.

I actually understand such thinking, because as a kid, I tended to react that way. For instance, I generally didn't understand Stranger in a Strange Land, but--probably for that very reason--I considered it one of the deepest and best books I'd ever read. I now believe that doesn't work: if you can't comprehend what you're reading, it might be great, but it might also be twaddle.

message 42: by Mehdi (new)

Mehdi Holden is a rebel without a cause, a spoiled brat who indulges in faux-nihilism before returning to mommy and daddy after a great TWO DAYS in New York alone. For transgression, see Bataille or Sade. Salinger is a joke,

message 43: by Shana (new)

Shana First, I have to say I love the fact that a book--A book!--can bring up such passionate debate. Then again, this is a site for book-lovers, so perhaps it means nothing. However, I'll still choose to hope that it does.

As to the detractors of my view of Holden and the novel, you should probably know a few things about me. When I read the novel in 8th grade, I was in my second year of living in Germany. I lived there for a total of 6 years, from the ages 12 to 18, which means in a lot of ways, I'm not a real American in the sense Leniod seems to mean. (I do, however, consider myself to be as American as Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich or Barack Obama. I do not subscribe to the view that there's a right way to be American, and I have the good sense to know "American" is a wide umbrella.) Furthermore, I have chosen to teach English as a Second language, and that means I spend 5 days a week enmeshed in cultures and values that are not "American," unless you consider that some of my students are more pro-American than I am about some issues. I don't think this book is particularly American, except inasmuch as its writer and characters are. A book, if it is to be called a classic, must appeal to more than a narrow demographic, and American, in the context of the whole world, is a narrow demographic. Take Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary. The first, written by a Russian, clearly appealed to writer of the second, a Frenchman, and they both appeal a great deal to me, an American.

Certainly, this book, as all books, will appeal to some more than others. This book, as it so happens, does not appeal to me. That, in itself, is not the problem; the problem is that I and others who feel the same are made to feel less smart, less hip, less self-critical, less insert-whatever-adjective-you-want-here than the people who do like it. And to be fair, I'd dare say that liking it is not equivalent to getting it, just as not liking it is not equivalent to not getting it.

Finally, though I appreciate that my opinion has sparked such spirited debate and though I hope such debate will continue, I would also hope that it could be kept civil. I truly love a good argument, but not when it devolves into insult.

message 44: by Madelene (new)

Madelene Well said! I didn't like it one bit and found it utterly disappointing.

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

Of course.. It is inevitable for books that are frank, original and anti-sentimental to pass the threshold of the schooled, exemplary and plain minds. No 'horsing around'... Perhaps some people should get permission slips for everything.

message 46: by Darrell (new)

Darrell I haven't read it and I don't plan to. Everyone I know hates it.

message 47: by Julia (new)

Julia So glad there are others. For a character who calls people phony so much... Holden was incredibly phony. I don't know if it was meant to be intentional irony, but it just made him, to me, THE most obnoxious persona I have ever read about. Ever. I read this when I was 15 and, even in my angsty state.. well.. this was too much for me. I hated it with a passion and why on Earth the youth still looks to it as if it were some sort of Puberty Bible is beyond me. I will never understand it, but one thing is for sure - when/if I have children, this book will not be recommended to them (at least) by me.

message 48: by Allison (new)

Allison I'm really glad to have found a review like this, because I also read it in middle school and hated it, and I was thinking about reading it now that I'm 21. But maybe I'll still hate it :p

message 49: by Bublitchki (new)

Bublitchki Devotchka Two words. THANK. YOU. I'm tired of people berating me over it just because I hate this book. Your reasons are similar to mine, except I couldn't have said it better myself.

message 50: by Justine (new)

Justine I SO AGREE! I thought that I was mistaken for awhile and needed to read it again because I missed everything. I really sincerely dislike this book though.

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