J.D. Salinger died only a few years ago in 2010 at age 91. I’ve wanted to read it for a long time but it feels good to finally get around to getting to it. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard references to this novel and there’s even an excessive number of people who have tattooed artifacts from this novel on their bodies.
I wasn’t that moved by it but I didn’t read it at the most applicable time in my life. Maybe if you read it in high school while trying to figure out “who you are” and “what you want to do.” Those identity struggles of a coming-of-age story like this might be more powerful if I was younger.
I like the unreliable narrator. I always like a story where I need to question the information and consider the perspective. Though, as far as Holden Caulfield goes, it was a little hard to really like him. There was a lot of angst. Everything “depressed” him. He didn’t take ownership of anything. Everything negative in his life was the fault of someone or something else. Though he came from incredible privilege he wasn’t able to see any of his advantages as the opportunities they were. That was a little discouraging to me, but given the general level of disillusionment, pretentious notion that independent thinking is devoid of its own set of pretensions (“people clap for all the wrong reasons”), and angst this novel seems to play into the anti-mainstream hipster culture taking over the world. I think I understand why it’s so popular. There’s a universality in the identity struggle and certainly in the struggle for independence, but I can’t imagine a hipster in the world who wouldn’t feel like it was written for them.
And I can’t finish this post without saying Amory Blaine. Doesn’t Holden Caulfield seem like a carbon copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Amory Blaine?
Last year when Mom read and didn’t really like I figured as The Catcher in the Rye states, “Mothers are all slightly insane.” Yet I couldn’t get as excited about it as I would have liked to either. It wasn’t what I expected but I think that’s the trouble with hype. You can’t read something as it is, you can only go into it expecting what it should be.