So I think I may have mentioned that I was going to try to intersperse my book reading with classics that I hadn’t read in high school. This idea started with our book club reading Farenheit 451. It seems that many had read this before in high school but I had not. What other books had I not read in high school that are literary rites of passage? Well, Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger for one. I distinctly remember the upper level middle school English classes reading this book but somehow, my English class did not.
Today I had to leave work early because of an extreme tummy ache (that I sadly still have), and after sleeping for a couple of hours and still having a hurting belly, I settled in to finish up this book. I must say, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading it, and in truth, I’m not sure what I ended up getting out of it.
16 year old Holden Caulfield in crass, rude, prone to alcoholism and cynical about everything/everyone he encounters. The story begins with knowledge of his expulsion from yet another prep school because of his academic apathy. He doesn’t want his parents to find out that he is coming home earlier than Wednesday so he sets about around the city of New York, sleeping in cheap motels, calling random people he knows, getting drunk at seedy bars and just stirring up all sorts of mischief.
His opinions and emotion change with the drop of a hat – at moments he loves people and then seconds later he hates them. His language is childishly coarse (with a curse word in almost every sentence) and repetitive. Even though this book was written in 1951 it still would offend the more conservative modern ears. I didn’t feel like there was a true beginning or end for the book – it just rambled along with whatever Holden decided to get into from getting in a fight with his roommate, offending one of his many girls on a date, getting drunk at a piano bar or a failed encounter with a prostitute. It seems that the only people he likes in life are his brother Allie, who passed away, his brother JD (which sometimes he doesn’t like for being a phony in Hollywood) and his sister Phoebe. Eventually, like every rebellious boy, he goes home to face the parents, but the book ends before you see their reaction.
I think I may just sum this up by saying it may have resonated more with a 16 year old rebellious boy than it did with me.