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Monday, April 26, 2010

Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger (Literary Fiction)

Reissued January 2001

After seeing a South Park episode picking on the reasoning behind The Catcher in the Rye making the list of banned books, I decided to reread it. I remember having to read it in high school and don't remember loving or hating it. I think it fell in the land of in between. Either way, it didn't leave that much of a lasting impression.

The plot within The Catcher and the Rye involves a 17-year-old private school student named Holden Caufield who shares a snippet of his life from a year earlier. Holden comes from a seemingly well-off family, but he doesn't try hard in school. At the age of 16, he's booted from a few and he's about to be booted from Pencey Prep because he's failing all classes except for English.

After fighting with his roommate over a girl, Holden sets off into New York City. There the reader gets some insight into Holden's past, present and possibly his future. This is not a happy tale. It's clear from the start that Holden suffers from depression, yet every adult he's in contact with seems to overlook this. I did what I could to research depression in the 1950s, when the book was written, and the disease did exist.

As an adult, I'm amazed at how much stronger an impression it left. In short, I couldn't stand the book. I found myself wondering where the parents/authorities were when Holden packed up and left school after having a squabble with his roommate. The school should have notified the parents that Holden was missing, yet that doesn't seem to have happened. I found that annoyed me to the point that I was ready to give up reading.

I also found myself annoyed with Holden's frequent use of "and all." After reading numerous sentences all ending with "and all," I was also ready to call it quits.

I know the book has a huge following of fans and many people find it to be life-transforming reading. I guess I'll have to remain in the minority because I really wasn't impressed.

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