What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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Just to chat > Please tell me there are people who appreciate Catcher in the Rye!

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message 1: by Lorna (last edited Mar 28, 2019 12:11PM) (new)

Lorna | 175 comments I'm not a fanatic. I have never once said "OMG, Holden is totally me!" I never had the urge to go to New Hampshire and track down Salinger; I thought people who did that were jackasses. It's not my very favorite, and I don't think it's the greatest American novel...

...but I'm getting a bit fed up with people bashing it. I also didn't want to "slap" Holden; I didn't think he was a "jerk" or "whiny". I'm not convinced that the reader is meant to see Holden as a soulmate. He's not a role model, but he is a vividly drawn character. In fact, all the characters are well portrayed.. And there's also a lot of humor in CITR; I don't think Salinger meant it to be taken anywhere near as seriously as it has been. Plus, it's a time capsule of NYC at the turn of the 1950s. There's a lot to like! And I think it helps to look at it from the angle of, Holden never quite recovered from his brother's death. How can the world make sense to him, when death from cancer doesn't make sense?

So please tell me there's someone here who read it and did not throw it across the room, but read it again and kept it on their shelf.

...I mean, I like Tom Robbins' works, but I skip over the pseuophilosophical screeds. I don't think the Clock People are all we're meant to take away from Cowgirls. And I don't think "Everyone and everything is phony" is what we're meant to take away from CITR. I think we're shown someone who has a certain outlook, *but we're not supposed to share that outlook*. I think it's even okay to laugh at Holden a bit. (Just a bit, though.)


message 2: by Rosa (last edited Apr 03, 2019 11:56AM) (new)

Rosa (rosaiglarsh) | 4974 comments I love that book. I feel for Holden, and I empathize with him. He's a good kid who's been through a lot. I'm fed up with people who bash it, too.


message 3: by Scott (new)

Scott It's been about thirty years since I read it, but I remember liking it a lot. I think I found Holden very relatable.


message 4: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 1532 comments The writer Joanna Rakoff worked with Salinger when she was employed at a publishing house in the 90s, and one of her jobs was answering letters on his behalf. In her memoir My Salinger Year she recalls Salinger receiving hundreds of letters from veterans who empathised with Holden's sense of alienation. It seemed to describe how many people felt after returning from WWII (and Salinger of course was also a veteran).

Although I am not a big fan of the book myself, I thought this was a really interesting perspective given the usual tendency to view Holden as self indulgent. If nothing else, I think it shows how Holden can be read very differently depending on the reader's point of view.


message 5: by Lorna (new)

Lorna | 175 comments Interesting! I''ll have to read that. Yes, perspective makes a big difference. And it probably doesn't help CITR that alienation has become a common theme in fiction.

Also, the narrow view of "Holden is a whiny brat" can be adapted for a lot of things.

"I can't stand Scarlett O'Hara. All she does is whine about men and whine about the war. Spoiled rich bitch!"

"'The Great Gatsby'? What's so great about him? Just because he throws these big parties all the time?"

"'Grapes of Wrath', gimme a break. Why didn't Tom join the army to support his family?"

It's possible to find something to dislike about any creative work; doesn't mean the naysayers are accurate.


message 6: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 1532 comments Yes, I think Holden's "everything is phoney!" routine would read very differently to someone who grew up listening to grunge music, for example, as opposed to people reading the novel at the time it was published.

"Tess of the D'Urbervilles, what's she always complaining about? Break-ups happen to everyone!"


message 7: by Scott (new)

Scott I still think everything is phoney.


message 8: by Paula (new)

Paula | 8 comments Read CITR the year I started college--year I discovered NYC and the (then) Village-- I didn't think of Holden as me but I certainly could connect with him. It's a wonderful book--silly to bash it.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) Rosa wrote: "I love that book. I feel for Holden, and I empathize with him. He's a good kid who's been through a lot. I'm fed up with people who bash it, too."

Agreed, I thought he seemed like a good person but not whiney. He had emotional problems, don't get the lack of sympathy or saying he was emo, I didn't see that. It was a book ahead of its time. If books came out now with someone with struggles and it was made fun of, you know people would be getting offended and upset.


message 10: by SamSpayedPI (new)

SamSpayedPI | 1573 comments Scott wrote: "I still think everything is phoney."

LOL. I loved The Catcher in the Rye. I read it in the 70s/80s.

I guess it is a bit of a difficult read, but it always was. There's no magic or dragons or goblins. There's no romance or great tragedy. And worst of all, there's no optimistic ending; Holden's depression and alienation remain at the end. So it's authentic when compared to "real life," but likely one of the first books of this type a teen would read, so it comes as a bit of a shock.


message 11: by Lorna (last edited Jul 09, 2019 12:25PM) (new)

Lorna | 175 comments All right, I have to get this off my chest. I recently tried to read Franny and Zooey. I can't; I just *can't* with this. I have about 100 pages left (IOW, halfway), but it would be torture to finish, so I'm officially DNFing.

*This* is what Salinger produced after five years of isolation? I'm no longer curious about what he wrote during his further decades of isolation. If he were still with us, I would tell him what he could do with every item in that medicine cabinet. *One by one.*

(Still love Catcher. Nine Stories as well. But the Glass family -- gah.)


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