Book Club Review: Catcher

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Year: 1951
Pages: 214

Review:”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.” Arguably the greatest opening line to any novel. Well, Holden, if you do want to know the truth, we DO want to hear about it! In fact, for nearly 60 years our grandparents, parents, older siblings, and us have adored it. Why? What makes this novel so special? Well, Salinger masterfully captures an adolescent’s concern, fears, desires and instead of coming off as an adult attempting to represent this mentality of a teenager, he literally writes in the damn lingo of a buzzcock. Goddamit! As far as I’m concerned Salinger ain’t telling the story, it’s Holden who’s’ running the show. It’s his book entirely. Holden has become the Pied Piper for a whole slew of lonesome cowboys: Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, The Perks of Being a Wallflower’s Charlie, and that cute radical nerd fellow from Kids Like You & Me. In short, he’s a middle finger to the establishment or a haphazard, misanthropic messiah, trying to save everyone only if he can save himself… and all.

Why Subversive?: Catcher has the unfortunate privilege (how’s that for an oxymoron?!) of already being subversive before you even read one word. It’s subversive simply for it’s reputation of consistently being a victim of Banned Books Lists and Censorship Nazis. Apparently heavy drinking and cussing some naughty words is worse than trying to commit suicide, murder your father, and fuck your mother as we witness with Shakespeare. Also, since some weirdos decide to assassinate (or attempt) public figures (John Lennon and Ronald Reagan) after or while reading the book, doesn’t mean shit! Look at the millions that didn’t grab their guns! Why focus on the select few? Not that Reagan would have been a great loss, but Hinckley’s motives were hardly in the vein of Leon Czolgosz: impressing Jodie Foster. Really?! haha. And you can calm down I’m not advocating political assassination, I just think Leon had much better, humane reasons. Anyway, I’ve digressed into this tornado of off topic subjects. Simply, Catcher challenges the reader to question authority and reject social norms.

Questions to Ponder (or leave a comment to!): What will become of Holden Caulfield? or What became of him?
What ever happened to Jane Gallagher? Is she in any way related to the awful comedian of the same name?
Why was Holden placed in a mental institution? How did this ALL transpire?
Any others?

Grade: A+ My all time favorite!

Chris