If J.D's intention was to painstakingly weave the narrative around the mind of Holden Caulfield and his internal circumlocutions, then yes, this is th...moreIf J.D's intention was to painstakingly weave the narrative around the mind of Holden Caulfield and his internal circumlocutions, then yes, this is the masterpiece it is touted as. A screen capture of a mind seemingly floundering in helpless inadequacy, until you zoom out and realize that Holden is not a misfit but just a tad jejune, still in growing pains, with a soul tinged in romantic tortuosity and fixation.
Five pages in, I realized I was reading a narrative of the life and mind of an A-dole-scent, and in the words of a true misfit of literature, Herman Melville's "Bartleby", I respectfully to Mr. Sallinger's opus "I would prefer not to". But since I was in a 13 hour flight and Holden Caulfield was my single-serving, middle seat friend, I had to oblige.
More importantly, the author deserved respect. The book needn't be judged at page number five. J.D. had gone through too much by this time; witnessing the brutal Battle of the Bulge during World War II while nursing a massive heartbreak over the dissing by Oona O'neill in favor of overaged Charlie Chaplin while he was at the front. I could not think of a more devastating combo to afflict a man of letters, whose soul is born is to witness, feel, filter and transcribe.
I wanted to see if I could capture shades of this suffering embedded or hinted at in the text; to see if J.D. managed to exorcize some of these demons, but instead I only found a deep and hollow trench of affliction, and devastatingly, perhaps the author blaming himself for what he perceived as "not measuring up to Oona". If I'm right, how wrong he was. She did not measure up to him. it was a mismatch of fate, that's all.
My two stars are solely due to the fact that I did not enjoy the trappings and minutiae of Holden Caulfield's mind, notwithstanding how faithfully the style was executed for this purpose. Other than that, I stand corrected and defer to what others may still teach me about The Catcher in the Rye. (less)
They say the best meals are often hard and painful to digest, and I thoroughly enjoyed Kant's chef d'ouvre and am still digesting. I can't wait to sha...moreThey say the best meals are often hard and painful to digest, and I thoroughly enjoyed Kant's chef d'ouvre and am still digesting. I can't wait to share my insights on the text once it clears the cognitive tract. (less)
It has its moments but I'm sorry to say that Saul Bellow's opus failed to impress me. Maybe I shouldn't have read it right after reading a seasoned Ma...moreIt has its moments but I'm sorry to say that Saul Bellow's opus failed to impress me. Maybe I shouldn't have read it right after reading a seasoned Maupassant in his prime.
This book deserves a re-read 10 years from now for a second look. (less)
This is one of those rare books which are unique because the criteria used for assembling its parts depends solely on the author. In this case, a year...moreThis is one of those rare books which are unique because the criteria used for assembling its parts depends solely on the author. In this case, a year-by-year biographical record of the lives, times and intersections of Concord's famous literary crop; Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott et fille Louisa May Alcott.
Since a year-by-year biodata list is ubiquitous in many books, usually after the introduction or preface, what made this list stand out was the command and love that the author clearly has for the subject matter.
Therefore, as opposed to a programmatic, matter-of-factly rundown through the decades, sentiment is brought in by keen observations and cross-referential material by secondary or tertiary sources. The anecdotes, events, and quotes that the author finds relevant to go along the touchstones in each of the writer's lives opens a window to the world of Concord, Mass in the 19th century. Would-be trivial info such as knowing that Thoreau, Hawthorne and Emerson went ice skating on the frozen Concord river right outside the Old Manse one winter day is anything but. In such a snapshot, and the commentary provided by Hawthorne's wife on seeing the way each men moved along the ice according to their own temperaments, we get to feel these lives more acutely; to appreciate their hopes, their frailties, and their humanity more warmly than when looking at them perched on pedestals.
Bought while on my visit to Orchard House in Concord on the summer of 2009, this booklet might be short in length but the emotions it stirred certainly didn't fall short. I already had a special place in my heart for Concord's illustrious denizens; Louisa May Alcott's "Little Men" being the first book I ever read at age 9, and Thoreau and Hawthorne, each in its own right, having given me much to think and ponder for the last 13 years. This booklet has enhanced my appreciation for them, their lives, and their mark in History. I will make a vow read both Emerson and Bronson Alcott next year before I head to Concord again.
I recommend you purchase a copy from one of the stores in these historic literary houses to show your support for all that they do to preserve them. The Wayside, Orchard House, The Old Manse, Walden Pond and Emerson's House are all there for you to visit and get as close as you can to 19th century literary America.
To sum up my review, I'll quote Bronson Alcott:
"That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit" (less)