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Alex’s review of The Catcher in the Rye
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(last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM)
Dec 12, 2007 07:11AM
Thanks for the review. It's so hard to review a classic like this; so much has been written about Holden it seems like it's all been said a million times before. The best book discussions do indeed come from the heart.
(last edited Jun 13, 2009 08:48AM)
Jun 13, 2009 08:47AM
I just read about a dozen reviews of this book here on Goodreads; so far, you're the only one who actually understood the book. You're spot on here: "But, er, that's the point. If you don't like Holden, Salinger did his job." Thanks for your review.
Apr 04, 2010 12:11PM
Loved this review because it makes complete sense to me.
" I just think that with many classics, people start looking for something huge... a big, rollicking plot, some amazing humour or poetic language, and sometimes the brilliance of a book is so much more subtle."
I agree. :)
Jul 21, 2010 04:01PM
It always annoys me when people make the claim that if you don't like something, you didn't get it. It is entirely possible to understand Salinger's intent and his point and still hate the book.
(last edited Jul 22, 2010 10:36AM)
Jul 21, 2010 04:10PM
Absolutely. But when someone makes comments like, "This book sucks because because Holden is a phony himself!" then, well, that person didn't get the point of the book.
(last edited Jan 08, 2012 06:55PM)
Jan 08, 2012 06:54PM
Years late, but:
I am totally behind the feeling that you can get something and hate it. I just think that there are some things where this is not true. I understand why people like dance music, conceptually. I know its purpose. I still find it repetitive, disposable pap, because there is plenty of music which is danceable but also creative and less synthetic feeling. On the other hand, I can understand why people wouldn't like downhome blues for similar reasons... it's very repetitive, lyrics often transfer from song to song, and the arrangements are as sparse as one imagines an old bluesman's wallet to be. The difference, to me, is there is a clear historical meaning to the latter, an authenticity and a window into another world. Dance music creates an illusion, while old blues shatters one, in a way. So if you say "I'm not a big fan of old blues," whatever. I don't have much of a collection myself. But to hate it, to me, makes me wonder how much you understand it. "I get they're poor and were oppressed. I understand the cultural need for this music to crop up, and the huge influence it had on modern musical forms. But I hate it." That sort of thing makes me want to know more about what it is that gives one such a visceral hatred combined with such a deep understanding. It signals a disagreement at a deeply personal level.
Put another way, I agree with almost nothing Ayn Rand believed in. I don't love her writing style. I think her followers are a huge concern when it comes to modern society. And yet The Fountainhead was still the most meaningful book I read last year. More on that perhaps in a later review. So I guess I cannot help but wonder what offense Catcher could have caused to lead to hate and understanding simultaneously. That implies a basic disagreement with Salinger's postulates, and that leads to a "why" every time.
Jan 14, 2014 12:38AM
The Catcher in the Rye is about WW2. It is a story within a story. Holden (which is the name of a car) is just a vehicle to "understand" the WW2. See my review. When you understand that Salinger couldn't say what he knew about this war so he wrote it as a children's book... Just like Felix Salten in Bambi (not the Disney version, which is probably why Salinger didn't get his published.
Salinger tells you this is nit a David Copperfield story. So don't read it like it is about Holden. Hint: look at the first page of David Copperfield to understand "Caiulfields" name.
I hope you will reread it again. This time when you get to the Merry go round play the music Salinger said was playing, and see if that makes sense or if he is using this book to tell you about money, power and war.
Jul 05, 2014 07:09PM
This book is about Holden Caulfield
Aug 26, 2014 09:33PM
Excellent review. You nailed it. This tale of Holden's descent into the looney bin is so descriptive, I can't believe most of these reviewers got bored with the character and missed the point: we are all different; just because he's young, affected, neurotic, crazy, bored, boring, juvenile, etc., this is HIS story. If you ever went thru what I did as a teenager and a 19-year-old in 'Nam, then you'll understand. Otherwise,just get out the Windex and clean your spotless, squeaky-clean experience on this plane in case there's a bit of dust to annoy you!
Sep 07, 2014 08:05AM
Cosmic: I don't doubt Salinger couldn't have had a deeper intention, and perhaps some day I will re-read with your ideas in mind. However, as I think is clear to you given your reading, every text can tell multiple stories. This is the beauty of reading, is it not? For a couple totally relevant examples, consider the original intentions of Baum's Oz or Carroll's Alice: both had very specific, very dull, and very forgotten purposes, yet both texts endure due to the surface pleasures and the more tangible, universal lessons.
As such, no matter how intentionally or cleanly a WWII narrative fits the story (and I certainly don't doubt it could be the case, or that you have evidence for it), Holden himself must have a purpose, and his persona must have a purpose. No matter what other layers exist, Catcher in the Rye is about Holden. It can also be about other things, but it is the story of Holden which would paint these other aspects. Holden would be the lens through which WWII was seen, in your example. To get at what Salinger is saying, whether it is commentary on a wayward culture or allegory for the horror and aftermath of the war, one needs to understand Holden.
The Fifth Marauder
Jun 17, 2015 09:14AM
Oh dear god....for years I have been struggling to explain this book to the people and i almost gave up until I read your review.You have literally (and I am aware of the strength of this word)filled my incomplete life with joy.This review captures my precise interpretation of the book.Its so to the point that its actually scary.I am almost tempted to add your words along the list of classics including this book itself.I really thank you for this from the bottom of my heart,I really do.
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