I am finally reviewing Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. As I mentioned at the end of last year, it was the documentary Salinger that reminded me of yet another gap in my classic literature reading – Catcher.
I found the book to be a bit puerile and that may be because society has changed so much since it was published (1951.) I could see where the book would be considered salacious and deep in that simpler time but now this pony has been ridden to death.
The idea of a full grown adult writing in the style of an angsty teenager was deep and inciteful in the 50s but now looks immature and schlocky – at least to me. The people who claim this book “changed their lives” or “opened their eyes” seem naive.
I am sure my take on the book is very heavily influenced by the documentary and the fact that Salinger clearly showed signs of mental issues as his fame surrounding the book transformed into a combination of the recluse Howard Hughes and Humbert Humbert.
The angst and alienation in the book seem very subversive and in the hindsight of 50+ years, the book reads as though it was a how-to manual for whiny millenials. It may have been revolutionary in the 50’s but today through the eyes of someone in their 50’s it just seems negative and useless.
Perhaps back then, discovering the “phonies” in the world and being a selfish, brooding teen may have been something I could have related to – I just can’t now at all.
To summarize, I don’t see what the big deal is about this book. Is it that the book is dated and this sort of stuff isn’t edgy anymore? Is it that this book is best appreciated when I actually was an angsty teenager? Or is it that it is far deeper than mean and I just don’t “get it?”
by Chris Doelle
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