Tuesday, April 15

J. D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."
His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

“Up home we wear a hat like that to shoot deer in, for Chrissake," he said. "That's a deer shooting hat."
"Like hell it is." I took it off and looked at it. I sort of closed one eye, like I was taking aim at it. "This is a people shooting hat," I said. "I shoot people in this hat.”

This whole reading project started when one of my friends said she wanted to read classical books. I found myself thinking about it and then suddenly we were talking about what we should read first. Finally we decided the Catcher in the Rye would be the best, we divided it into parts and then we got started.

Honestly I was really afraid of this book, I mean people write every kind of reviews, some are in love with it, others hate it there are a few in between, I guess you could say this is a divisive book. Then I read the first page and was completely captivated. This was one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, even if there weren’t a lot of things happening I couldn’t take my eyes away from the lines.

This book is full of slang and there is even some cursing in it but all these things add up somehow and made the book really enjoyable. Salinger wrote this book very well, I usually don’t like classicals that much because of the writing style, either they contain too much landscape description or the text is too hard to get. Considering that this book was from the 50s and still totally understandable I’d say the author made a good job.  

The story tells us a few days of the life of Holden who decides he’ll leave his boarding school and live on his own for a few days, until he has to go home for Christmas break. What damage could it cause? He is already expelled.
We follow his days as he wanders around the city meeting with old “friends” and making new enemies.
This is just three or four days, I don’t exactly know but it was really-really funny leaving aside the depressed narrator. There were many humorous parts, I laughed out loud quite a few times. There isn’t a lot of action on this one but even if it’s mostly about normal stuff, the story never got boring.

“And I have one of those very loud, stupid laughs. I mean if I ever sat behind myself in a movie or something, I'd probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up.” 

Holden was such an incredible character even if he hated everyone and everything.

“People are always ruining things for you.”

“That killed me.” 

He always called up people and when the time came for the actual meeting he did not feel like it anymore but still he never cancelled it, he rather suffered it through. He was the kind of character who could say a thing in one minute but in the next the exact opposite of it.
Never for a minute think that he was completely heartless or anything, he had loved his little sister, at least most of the time (aww she was such a cutie). 
My favorite thing about this book, about Holden, is that he could think about the most irrational things but still make sense, you eventually started to think about these too.

“When you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.” 

Did I forget to mention that he is half crazy? Let me show a few examples:

“I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy.” 

“I told her I loved her and all. It was a lie, of course, but the thing is, I meant it when I said it. I'm crazy. I swear to God I am.” 

“That's the terrible part. I swear to God I'm a madman.”

And the most important question throughout the book:
“Where do the ducks go in the winter?” 

All considered this is an extremely funny book which I loved all the way down. :)

The story idea: 5/5
The realisation of the story: 5/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: - Let's just not say anything about it. 

I'd recommend this to those who aren't allergic to sarcasm and depressed mood.

Click here for my Goodreads review. 

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