mark monday's Reviews > The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
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journal entry

today i am 15 years old. everything is all bullshit, as usual. i can't believe how fucked everything is around me. like i'm surrounded by zombies. i can't talk to any of my so-called friends, i can't talk to jamie, i can't talk to my parents. who would bother listening anyway. i cannot wait to leave orange county! this place makes me fucking sick. everyone is a hypocrite. everything is so goddamn bright and shiny and sunny and meaningless. FUCK, life is so full of crap.

there is one good thing in my life though. just read this book Catcher in the Rye. blown away! i don't know how a book written decades ago could say exactly what i would say. it is like the author was reading my thoughts and put it all down in this book. things i didn't even realize i felt were right there on the page! I LOVED IT. i think this is my favorite novel of all time. which is not saying a whole lot because there is a ton of pretentious bullshit out there and i bet mrs. durham will force us to read it all. man i hate that bitch.

journal entry

today i am 20 years old. life is great as usual. just enjoyed my wednesday morning wake-and-bake session with j-p, the sun is shining, the san diego weather is beautiful, and tonight i'm off to rob & gregg's to destroy them at bullshit. love that game! gregg says that joelle will be there (yes!) but she'll probably bring that prick pete with her. one of these days i'm going to lose it and kick his ass. "i'm in a band"...fuck you, pete! i will never spin your records.

all i have on the agenda today is to go to the gym and then off to keracik's american lit class. it is not a bad class, although it is nowhere close to gender studies with halberstam. or davidoff's survey of modern postmodernism last semester. now that was a class! it blew my mind. so many things to think about. the reading in american lit has been okay. but we've been assigned to read Catcher in the Rye and it is terrible. can't believe i ever liked this book. caulfield is a whiny little bitch. the book has no depth. there is literally nothing going on with the narrative, style, theme, characterization, it is just one rote cliché after another. he thinks he is such a rebel-without-a-cause but in reality he is just another tired representation of rootless, stereotypical masculinity and gender essentialism. completely inane and without meaning. i think my essay will use some acker-style postmodernist techniques to show how simplistic this trite "classic" truly is. i'm going to deconstruct the shit out of this novel, baby!

journal entry

today i am 25 years old. another gray, drizzly san francisco morning. i wish christopher would wake up, i really need to talk to him after all that shit last night. notes on my pillow, really?? time to grow up dude, i will never "complete you". well actually i'm glad he's still asleep, my throat is too sore to get into it right now with him. plus Food Not Bombs is happening this morning and i have to get the kitchen ready. john is probably hard at work already, typical over-achieving behavior. i bet the wisconsin kids are still crashing on our living room floor. it's time for them to leave! they've seen The Vindictives at every single Epicenter or Gilman show now and it is time for them to hit the road. or learn to take a shower. this apartment is not the world's crashpad!

i woke up early this morning and thumbed through A Catcher in the Rye. i remember hating this book in college for some reason. probably wasn't po-mo enough for me. or "challenging". feh. what a pretentious idiot i was. this is a beautiful book. it changed my life as a kid, i'm not sure how i would have survived orange county without it. just re-reading parts of it brought back all that old angst about all the fucked-up shit in the world that kids have to deal with. i'm not sure there is another book as insightful or as meaningful. or funny! that part with the clipping-of-the-toenails is hilarious. ackley is such a douche. this book is the foundation of every zine that i have ever loved. a perfect novel. it is so...."human", i guess.

journal entry

today i am 30 years old. man my head hungover! my birthday party last night was awesome. even got to spend some time on the turntables (thanks kraddy for actually relinquishing a tiny bit of control for once). i must have made out with a half-dozen people. sadly, no real action. i think last night's party will be the last big party i will ever throw. things have got to change. no more partying like the world is about to end, i still have my entire life ahead of me! tomorrow i am going to go into AIG and hand in my notice. i am not an entertainment insurance underwriter, that is not me. fuck them. if erika can get me that job working with homeless kids at Hospitality House, than i am set. although moving from the biggest room in the flat to the water heater closet will be no fun. i'm 30 years old now for chrissakes! still, i've got to do something meaningful with my life. it cannot all be about booze, drugs, hooking up, and paying everyone's rent when they're broke. things have got to change.

i cracked open A Catcher in the Rye yesterday before the party and read some of my favorite parts. what an inspiration! seriously, that is a classic novel. it is packed with meaning. i'm twice caulfield's age but i still somehow connect with him in a very direct way. my life is going to change and the attitude expressed in that book is at the heart of that change. i love you, holden caulfied. it's not too late for me to learn from you, to find some meaning in life.

journal entry

today i am 35 years old. another intense, sad, but deeply fulfilling week has passed. every day something meaningful happens, something so emotional and real. sometimes i find myself just losing it in a fetal position because of the things i've seen. working with people who are drug addicted or who have been abused or who are dying is HEAVY. but it is also beautiful. it's hard to believe i am dealing with all of that and supporting my folks too. thank God i have good friends to talk to about these things. anyway. so now marcy wants to have a kid. i just don't know how i feel about that. this is such a fucked up world, do we really want to bring new life into it? i dunno. it seems....selfish, somehow. she should just quit her job with the d.a.'s office and get back to her roots in the public defender's office instead. does she think that having a child with me will bring more meaning into her life? my life has meaning enough already. and i really am not sure i can handle that responsibility on top of everything else.

i skimmed A Catcher in the Rye yesterday, after an awkward talk with marcy about having a baby. it was not an inspiring read. caulfield is so full of misplaced angst! i'm not sure i even understand him anymore. why is he so pissed off? he's seen nothing of the world and what the world can actually do to people. i want to like him, i want to re-capture that feeling of affection i had for him, but now his contempt and his anger just seem so meaningless, so naive. he really does not have it so bad. there is so much worse out there. i don't know how i would handle a kid like that. i hate to say it, but i constantly rolled my eyes when reading it. oh the emotional self-absorption of youth! just you wait, caulfield. it sure gets a hell of a lot more complicated once you grow up.

journal entry

today i am 40 years old. when did i become a boss? it is like i woke up one day, mysteriously transformed into an old man. am i really a "leader"? what does that even mean? sometimes i feel like i am just faking it all and someone is going to figure it out and blow the whistle on me. last week i made a huge play on the Council, i had all my ducks in a row, and all the votes came in just as i had planned. everyone has their own agenda and the way to get things done is simply to recognize and engage with that disappointing fact. some folks got up and started clapping and then the whole room joined in, even council members who voted against my motion - feh, phonies. the experience was sort of amazing but it also made me feel very odd, almost disconnected from myself. is this who i am now, a public policy figure, a community advocate, a mayoral appointee? ugh, i can't stand the mayor. i don't feel like me. there is accomplishment there, and some satisfaction... but i am missing something, something visceral, something real. sweet Jesus, is this what a mid-life crisis feels like? it is a weird feeling, like i know everything that i need to know about the world, about the people around me, how everything connects, but yet i still feel like i know so little about life. oh, such angst, mark. surely you've outgrown this?

i've started re-reading A Catcher in the Rye. it's so strange, during different parts, i felt like crying. a wonderful and moving novel. i feel like i really understand holden, like he is my guide, my son, my brother, my friend... myself. i think of him and i know that change in the world and changing myself can still happen. it just has to happen. that's life after all, right?
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 1, 2011 – Shelved
July 1, 2011 – Shelved as: time-to-come-of-age
July 1, 2011 – Shelved as: alpha-team
October 29, 2011 – Shelved as: first-loves
May 12, 2013 – Shelved as: super-private-journal
October 27, 2013 – Shelved as: unicorn
March 13, 2016 – Shelved as: these-fragile-lives

Comments (showing 1-50 of 420) (420 new)

Maciek Good one Mark!

mark monday thanks mace, i appreciate it!

Kelly I do not like this book, but I do like this review. Excellent!

mark monday thanks elizabeth & kelly. love both of your reviews on this one.

mark monday definitely!

i really like kelly's review because it reminds me of how i used to feel about the novel at one point in my life.

Stephen Fantastic, Mark. Well done.

Kelly Yeah, I've tried to go back and do something more thoughtful with that review but my inner 16 year old will not have it. Maybe in a few years I'll be able to beat her down. :)

message 8: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Genius review, Mark, actually genius writing, full stop.
When do you turn 45?

message 9: by mark (last edited Jul 01, 2011 01:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks stephen, brian, ian!

brian - welcome to my life. all summed up in 6 neat little sections.

ian - only 4 years and a couple months until age 45 and another installment on this review!

kelly - even if you don't ever change it, your review is awesome because it honestly captures exactly what you were feeling at the time.

message 10: by Mariel (new) - added it

Mariel :)

message 11: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye (:

message 12: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Excellent review, Mark!

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly This is your masterpiece! To complete it though, you ought to have a child. Just 14 more years you'll have a fucked-up teenager yourself and you get to write your 55th year review of this book. That'll be a fun read for all your fans here!

message 14: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thank you my PI brothers!

T. Edward Inspiring review. I was tempted to nudge my rating to 5 stars as a result but I really should re-read the book before I commit to such an intractable decision.

message 16: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday do not make these important decisions rashly, t. edward. re-read first!

Kwesi 章英狮 Haha, I really enjoyed reading your journal entries.

message 18: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j awesome!

message 19: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks kwesi & joel!

Aloha LOL! This is a terrific review! I believe the 15 year old part was an accurate representation of you.

message 21: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Interesting review. I've never read CitR.

message 22: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks aloha.

michael, i'm wondering how long we've known each other. you may be one of the few folks i've known on-line who has seen me through three of these time periods!

message 23: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael That's a good question (even though you didn't ask a question. I asked myself a silent question which means that I'm pretty much talking to myself now). I'm going to guess we've known each other since right around summer 2001?

message 24: by mark (last edited Jul 06, 2011 01:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday ah. so i met you the summer right before my 31st birthday. 2-and-four-fifths worth of journal entry time! i have nephews who are younger than our friendship. that's a funny thought.

message 25: by Greg (last edited Aug 28, 2011 05:00PM) (new) - added it

Greg LOL I haven't read The Catcher in the Rye (yet) but I enjoyed your clever review, Mark!

It brings to mind a project I tried to get my closest friends into doing with me when I was 19. I came up with this idea that my friends and I would each write an essay about what we thought of life, what it is to be 19 or 20, what we expected of the future (and what we thought we'd be doing in it), and so on. I modified the idea a bit so that one friend who was really into photography could do a photo-essay, while another could compose a song (since he was a budding musician). The idea was to repeat the exercise every 10 years so as to document how we had changed (or not) since we began the project.

Sadly, I found myself to be the only one enthused with the idea so it never got off the ground. I wish it had.

message 27: by Greg (last edited Jul 08, 2011 11:56AM) (new) - added it

Greg Joel wrote: ""

The UP Series shares some similarities with my idea - in the sense of capturing the moment at different periods in a person's life - but it is different in that the documentary maker is to some degree moderating or selecting what is significant, whereas we teenagers (later 29 year-olds, thirty-nine year-olds, and so forth) would've been the ones deciding what was significant for us at the time.

message 28: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks greg! now read the book. do it!

message 29: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg Maybe after Storm Front and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward...? :P

Aleyna I'm only 16 now, so I can't quite relate with the whole review...but I love it! I hope I don't end up hating the book when I'm 20 though! :P I read it at 15 and I felt just the way you did...except I had a sort of fear of cuss words so I didn't express myself like you ;]

message 31: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks aleyna!

it is easy to scorn the book when in college, reading/learning about all the various literary movements, different (and sometimes more sophisticated) writing techniques, different kinds of transgressive literature, etc. backlash against more traditional kinds of writing, classic and modern, is easy when being exposed to so much that is different and maybe more stylistically challenging or with more nuanced, ambiguous messages.

but it is just as easy to love it again when realizing (later, for me) that awesome writing is awesome writing, no matter what the style or genre or movement or whatever. especially when the message is one that is so heartfelt and timeless.

message 32: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg Just thought I'd say that I bought the book the other day and might start reading it soon. :)

message 33: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday write a review and post a link here!

message 34: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg Will do, but it will be hard to beat yours! :P

message 35: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael it will be hard to beat yours!

Sorry, I just have one of those minds that goes places.

message 36: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday well, i suppose it is true that my review is quite lengthy. more importantly, the breadth, or some may say, the width of experience on display could be considered a challenge to perhaps wrap a mind or hand around. but not to worry, i am an at-first gentle reviewer, and am happy to introduce my concepts slowly, an inch at a time, until the reader has adjusted to the magnitude of the review itself. and then, hopefully, pure pleasure awaits. so far at least, i have had no complaints.

message 37: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg Hmmm. A good review is always something to be admired or even envied, of course. But, when writing your review, do you ever find the ink flowing from your pen more freely than at other times? Or do you find your thoughts issuing forth in such a mad rush that you find yourself without enough paper to contain them all?

message 38: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday you are sadly correct, Greg. sometimes when writing a review, if the object of the review is one that is particularly pleasing or intriguing...sometimes the review does indeed seem to finish itself, all too quickly, without me even realizing. in my mind at least, i envisioned a much more in-depth and long-lasting review. i may t hen attempt a return to the experience, with the faint hope of recapturing that original surge of reviewing excitment. alas, i usually find that the magic has become rather limp at that point. but let us not talk of such sad things!

message 39: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg I have to agree with you, Mark, that in-depth and long-lasting reviews are much more preferable. That said, I've heard that some people can only write a sustained review while on one drug or another. However, I think one's true passion for a book can only come out when it is unfiltered by drugs or, indeed, any other kind of barrier to the transmission of one's thoughts.

message 40: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday i wholeheartedly agree. i prefer to write my reviews in a fairly lucid state. however, this is not to say that when writing reviews that i do not often contemplate other matters, or provide a separate, perhaps imaginary context. i find it makes the experience of writing a review one that lasts all the longer. it often allows the review to remain "in depth". hopefully, to the satisfaction of all.

Jordan One of the best "book reviews," if this time-lapsed soliloquy may be so called, that I have ever read.

message 42: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks Jordan!

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) Really wonderful review, even though I have not had the same experience of the novel you've had. Or have I...? We'll see when I turn 40. :)

message 44: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks Lavender!

message 45: by Mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark Really clever. I love the different styles you use across your reviews and this one was particularly good

message 46: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday thanks Mark! this is my favorite review.

message 47: by knig (new) - rated it 4 stars

knig Great epistolary expose. Bril, bril, bril. (now, what exactly is a wake and bake? purple warrior /love pudding stuff? we are divided by a common language, you know). As to the midlife crisis, hadn't thought of it in those terms, but been there, I'm collecting the T shirt as we speak. You put it very nicely though. Maybe a reread of catcher in the rye will round off the experience. In the meantime, there is, however, a perverse kind of self fullfilment in wallowing in misery and doubt.

message 48: by Spacewanderer (new)

Spacewanderer See, I was going to read this but a friend of mine said you have to read it before you're 18 to enjoy it, which I found disappointing. But I think I just might do it now.

message 49: by mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

mark monday sad to say, i think the odds are not in your favor for enjoying this book. i predict you will find Holden to be insufferable. hopefully not though - perhaps i will be proven wrong!

message 50: by Spacewanderer (new)

Spacewanderer Insufferable is my favorite kind of people!

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