Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why I Hate "The Catcher in the Rye"

Or alternately; If I ever meet J. D. Salinger, I shall kick the pretentious little shit in the balls. I don’t care how old he is.

The more I get into writing and what it takes to deliver a story or article that I both feel deeply passionate about and simultaneously want to write about (often two different things), the more I am critically examining literary favorites that (to me) are important, and what makes them so. I mean, I love the works of Edgar Allen Poe, but I also love “Cemetery World” by Cliff Simak and while it’s no “Fall of the House of Usher”, believe me when I say I am probably the only person on Earth who has them both side-by-side on his bookshelf. Because these books carry some lesson or tale of intrigue that I glean from them every time I open them again. I want my books to carry something to the reader, some lesson or warning, perhaps something unexpected that makes their little eyes pop open in the middle of the night and look under the bed…Just to be sure. But the last thing I would ever want to be is the kind of pseudo-intellectual two-faced bigot that can’t pull his head out of his own ass for ten seconds to see that he wasn’t the center of the universe.

Having said that…

The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most popular books in American literature, it sells almost 250,000 copies each year, with total sales of more than 10 million.

Think about that figure for a second: This book generates hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It’s a friggin’ literary ATM machine that’s barely 275 pages long (I don’t count the index, sorry). Cemetery World is barely 150 pages, and it’s got ROBOTS, yet The Catcher in the Rye seems to be held as literary genius. I suppose at that rate of reprint, it must be reaching SOMEBODY. Maybe it’s just because I prefer rocket ships and ghosts to self-pitying neurosis, but I have read Cemetery World WAY more the Catcher in the Rye.

I first read The Catcher in the Rye in high school, probably around 1985. It was surrounded in all it’s controversial glory even then, replete with profanity, teenage sex (or should I say sexual frustration, it’s not like Holden ever really gets LAID), drinking and overall typical adolescent angst-filled self absorption. I remember the local Baptist minister coming to my school to lecture us on the Satanic message this book delivers (no shit folks, this really happened. I can’t make up fiction THIS strange). So naturally I couldn’t wait to tear into it.

Exactly two days later I woke up in a perfectly foul mood because I felt as if somebody had left a flotilla of warm ejaculate in my coffee and failed to mention it until after I downed a cup. I was halfway between the decision to either perform fellatio on my .22 rifle, or crawl to the top of the school gymnasium with it and see what my chances were on catching the English Lit. teacher (that bastard) unawares when I realized that almost everybody else in class was raving about the profound effect this book had on them. I guess that’s what happens when your hormones are in full bloom and you aren’t getting laid: Your mind starts to play tricks on you. My report on Catcher in the Rye was, at the time, much less urbane than this one but no less blunt.

I have never liked Catcher in the Rye. Never. It sucks warm sick through a short straw. It’s one of those books that makes you feel like the author just sneezed on you when you get to the last page.

About a million people have suggested I read it, and when I reply that I have they always look at me like I missed something because I don’t speak in an awed hush with an air of reverence at the mention of the title. They get REALLY gobsmacked when I say I didn’t think much of the book in the first place. “But Holden is so much like you” they have said, “He’s a loner, an outcast. He does his own thing, and fuck the rest of the world. I thought you would be able to identify with it.”

Now how the fuck am I supposed to reply to that? Holden doesn’t “do his own thing”, he just sort of drifts with the goddam wind. He doesn’t care one whit about where he has been, where he’s going, what’s going on or the feelings of those around him. At my utter teenage worst when I was one of the Wild Boys, I’ve never been kicked out of several prep schools, gone to New York, hid out from my parents, been tricked into paying some broad’s bar bill because I was a young idiot, failed to procure a hooker on my own and been so stupid that I didn’t know where the ducks went during winter. I mean, that takes a SPECIAL kind of stupid, the real short-bus variety. The Protagonist is 16 years old, for fuck’s sake. What the hell do you know about ANYTHING at 16 except who the latest pop tart is and how Sally from down the street is starting to get her boobies. Salinger tries to pass Holden off as some sort of teen messiah on a pilgrimage to truth, but if falling miserably short in the life achievement category while spouting sanctimonious rhetoric and bar hopping in between pissing off everybody who ever gave a shit about you constitutes deification then I’m the fucking Dalai Llama. Holden spends the entire book wandering around New York spouting intellectual nonsense that sounds deep for about 5 seconds and then floats to the surface to reveal it’s only bullshit. He’s literally so dumb he can’t get laid in a whorehouse, as an actual whore arrives in his hotel room and he can’t seem to figure out where the parts go.

The book ends just as free-form fart suckingly eyeball-gougingly apathetic as it started, with Holden just looking around thinking that he “Sort of misses everybody” (since he was such a loner at school, I can only surmise that the “somebodys” he’s referring to are imaginary). So what’s the message here, “life sucks”? What the hell does Salinger think he’s telling us that we don’t already know? Kids try drinking? Yeah, that’s breaking news. Kids have sex? I knew that when I was 13 and having sex. Regularly. (but that’s another story). Holden just tries time and again, and blows it every time. He seems to be altruistic, every time he turns around he’s paying other people’s bar bill or giving cash to nuns, but I think this is J.D. Salinger’s’ way of making us think Holden has at least SOME redeeming qualities. Sorry J.D., not even close. You missed that one by a damn mile.

Holden is the vanguard for the Goth movement, in spirit if not dress code. The whole book is one long narrative about Holden’s apathy toward life, living, even breathing. He’s the walking poster child of every angst-ridden teenager who swears their parents don’t understand them, and how deep they are because they listen to the Cure (or the Doors, depending on how old they are) and read Nietzsche, (gaahhh!) wear all black, dye their hair black and run around crying “Oh, the crimson woe of it all!”. About the only thing that I got out of Holden’s character was that he had at some point probably been tied to a chair and beaten over the head for about 6 hours by a giant gorilla with a baseball bat made out of frozen stupid. Whoever spawned a child this dumb needs to give serious consideration to alternative forms of birth control, perhaps such as drowning your other offspring to insure they don’t turn around and breed more apathetic idiots.

Oh, and to J.D. Salinger, if you’re reading this: I realize your what I’m going to charitably call a book was written in the 50’s, and was probably considered cutting edge at the time. Well and all. But it certainly has not aged well, and I don’t care how rich you are, Philip K. Dick shits on you.

But then again what do I know, I actually read “Fahrenheit 451” and “Slaughterhouse Five”.


Anonymous said...

P.S. Negative review to follow :)

Brad said...

Never read Catcher and after reading your comments on it, don't want to. Sounds like the sort of thing that would ake me spew. Vonnegut, hell yeah. Poe, ditto. Favorites at that age when I was supposed to read Salinger, where Heinlein and Frost (yeah, the poet).

Terry said...

Well I'll be...
Someone who has the same thoughts on this drek as I do.
I think it has to do with living throught that age, as opposed to just existing as a teenager.
Now I don't feel as much of a literary idiot for thinking it was overrated.

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

Will, I never read CtiR either. But here's my challenge to you: Find something good to say about it. And I mean for real, not "I liked the typeface", or "It's a perfect example of how not to..."

As a writer, there should be damn few books that you _can't_ get something useful out of. It might be panning a hell of a lot of gravel for one goodie, but since you already read the book, the work's done.

Anonymous said...

Nice review. I read about half of the book in high school. I found no reason to continue and have been confused as to why its such a big deal.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

>"As a writer, there should be damn few books that you _can't_ get something useful out of. It might be panning a hell of a lot of gravel for one goodie, but since you already read the book, the work's done."<

Well, to do that I feel I would have to invent a narrow set of circumstances as a framework to hang the "goodie" on. I meant when I said I was re-examining books: I didn't START with Catcher, but when I got to it I read it all over again to see if there really was something I missed.

For instance, I could point out that all three acts of the book have the exact same tempo: Setup, attempt, failure, unconcern. This pattern is a repeat throughout each chapter, without fail. I could say that it was probably not as common a thing to see back then, and probably attracted interest because Salinger used profanity and adult situations in a teenage environment.

Now, typeface jokes aside, I could say that it held my interest to a point because I kept waiting for Holden to become "the man who learned better". Failing that, he had a few opportunities to become "seven in one blow". And finally, he hit strike three with "boy meets girl". He never even attempts to find these places, and the Holden we meet in chapter 1 is the identical twin of chapter 31. He hasn't learned a damn thing, nor does he care.

But I covered all that in my post. Why I am so disgusted with this book is in two parts:

1: It reaches a certain plateau plot-wise, and just drifts off into the sunset. Holden literally ends the book without a single visibly redeeming quality evident about himself or his outlook for what the future holds for him and you, the reader, are expected to empathize with this. Bearing in mind that he's 16, I am finding it exceedingly difficult to believe that a teenager with a wad of cash in downtown New York can only find adventure by being the butt of everyone else's jokes, and takes it all in with less concern than a stone would the moss slowly covering it.

2: This book is hailed as a triumph in American literature, and I don't think the criteria for such was set at a very high standard when they considered this book. For my money, "I AM the Cheese" puts it in the shade. Now, as I said in the post, it was the early 1950's and Salingers' writing style coupled with the language he used was edgy and the time. And maybe the whole apathy approach was new then.

So, I offer a counter to your challenge:

You say you've never read "The Catcher in the Rye".

Read it. It's not long.

If you tell me I was missing something, and indeed there is something you found, (you don't have to tell me what it is) I will re-examine my motives and my assessment of the book. I will study it until I DO have something that I can point to as a redeeming feature, and post it on this blog without cynicism or sarcasm.

If you don't, all I ask is that you tell me so. I will accept your word without question or argument, because I know what kind of person you are & trust your judgment.

Dojo Rat said...

Take a look at this man,

Catcher in the Rye may also have been used in hypno-programing assassins...
Dojo Rat

Steve Perry said...

You're missing something.

And I'll tell you what it is -- twenty or thirty years. That offhand, Yeah, okay, it was cutting edge in the fifites dismissal? Too easy.

On the Road never did it for me like I See By My Outfit did as a road novel. I was the wrong age to appreciate it. But I can understand how guys ten or fifteen years older than I must have regarded On the Road.

Much as I love plot, mainstream does have a place, and you really can't understand what a cutting edge was in the 1950's from where you sit. Reading about it, watching it on the History Channel, they don't give it to you.

I was nineteen years old before I saw the word "fuck" in a non-literary book I didn't have to buy under the counter. (In 1963, Miller's Tropic of Cancer would still get bookstore owners busted for selling pornography. You can see stuff in lingerie ads in the paper that would have gotten you arrested in 1950, and half of network television today would have gotten any station broadcasting it in 1953 fined and thrown off the air. And not for how bad it is, but on skin or language alone.)

People just Didn't Talk About Such Things back then, much less show them, and Salinger did. It was ground-breaking, but that ground has been plowed over and over, and like kids who have never known a president whose name wasn't Bush or Clinton, you can't know how it was. (Ever see water fountains marked "White" and "Colored?" Or a gas station with three restroom doors -- "Men," "Women," and "Colored?)

I read a shitload of bad fantasy before I ever discovered Lord of the Rings, and first time I did, I wasn't impressed. All the imitations had watered it down for me. It took a while.

Catcher was a shade early for me, but I related to it.

You are an egg. You need more time to grok before you say such things ...

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

Fair enough. I'll pick up a used copy of CitR and give it a whirl. But it's gonna have to wait until after I finish the rough draft, there's no room in my head for other people's fiction right now.

Mushtaq Ali said...

Steve has the right of it here Bobbe. If you have never lived in a world ruled by "Ozzie and Harriet" you just won't get the impact of a book like CitR. (I didn't care for it so much either, but for its time it was radical)

Books like "On The Road" or "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me" or even "Yellow Back Radio Broke Down" had profound impacts in the reality tunnel for which they were written that do not quite translate for this time stream.

Imagine though, if you will, that you spent your life living in the Clever household (or in your case perhaps with the Brady Bunch)and having to read CitR under the covers at night with a flashlight while almost every "authority figure" was telling the world it was an evil book. I think it was even banned in Boston.

lilrchmn328 said...

i think you may have slightly missed the point of this book. holden isnt supposed to be some sort of goth god, the idol to the children of the dark side. i think the part of theis book that fascinated me was how phony holden was, and how he reformed himself to become the very thing he repetedly despised. salinger isnt trying to tell us that kids have sex and smoke and drink and hit on their friends mothers.

you said that holden chapter 1 is the same as holden chapter 26. or 31, as you said. but i think there may be something deeper. (if you didnt catch that, there IS something deeper). maybe you can figure it out by yourself, or contact me ( because i sure would like to see what you come up with.

i'm not some cult follower who deeply relates to holden because hes a loner and so sincere. because i dont agree with that. when read into, holden proves to be a little boy, and phony little boy at that.

try to read from a different perspective, instead of the cynnical, sarcastic attitude you have beenr eading with since the first time you read it. you may uncover things even the analysts havent. i wouldnt be surprised. you seem intelligent enough to maybe find an even deeper meaning than all the bull shit we've been hearing for the bast 50 years.


Bobbe Edmonds said...

Hi Becca, thanks for posting!

Well, I actually have re-read Catcher several times since this posting, and my views haven't changed. Because for me, the story of Holden simply doesn't pay off, it leaves me feeling like I wasted time more than I invested it.

Holden at the beginning of the book is indeed the same Holden at the end of the book...He's just more open about it. I guess being in New York has given him freedom to behave the way he's longing to before he's thrown out of his private school. My point here, as I said in the review, is that he never learns anything.

The phony way he acts in the beginning is, to me, just an act...The way he behaves in the end is the way he's really been all along. His pseudo-intellectual account for why things are the way they are, to me, just doesn't cut it. And, his overall character seems to be the forerunner for what is now the Goth/Emo/Teen-Angst-Ridden-Stereotype that is prevelant nowadays.

Catcher in the Rye speaks to people on different levels, and depending on what you're looking for, your own level of comprehension will dictate what you take away from it. For instance, you may have noticed Steve Perry and Mushtaq Ali in the comments section as well. This book was written when they were teenagers, and things were WAY different back then than they are today. Steve and Mushtaq remember how things were back then, what the world was like, and they pulled a different context from Catcher than I did. Myself, reading it in 1984 or 85, I saw much of Holden's actions and thought processes as something either unbelievably naive or unseemly stupid for a boy of 16 on the streets of New York.

I don't know you, but judging by your grammar and articulation I would guess that you are in your mid to late teens? If not, then please forgive me, but if so I would like to say that your view of this book may change as well when you get older.

...Or not at all! But thanks for your opinion, I truly appreciate it.


Kirsten "Fi" said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you on several points, Bobbe.

To Steve and Mushtaq:

Just because "Catcher" was considered good by an earlier generation doesn't mean it still holds (or should still hold) as much meaning or value to later generations. That goes for everything that's ever been invented or devised -- whether in the art world, the literary, the scientific ... whatever.

I know I'm a rare bird in thinking this way, but the argument that we should "all bow down to a book because it USED to be unconventional" is a total crock. In my humble opinion, early movies with inane plot devices and shoddy character development shouldn't be considered classics based on the value of how they're written, even though they're still hailed as such.

It's also rather pedantic and patronizing for you to intimate that those of us who find no literary value in this novel simply need to incubate longer -- that we lack the maturity or the insight or the context to appreciate the full spectrum of the book's flavor. My parents were teenagers when the book came out, and they hated the book, too. So there goes that argument.

ajarara5438 said...

I just finished reading this book in high school, and I didn't like it at all. In fact, this quote "It sucks warm sick through a short straw. It’s one of those books that makes you feel like the author just sneezed on you when you get to the last page." made me laugh so hard, because I believe it's true. I didn't like the book at all, and almost booed out loud when I got to the ending. The thing is, I don't know WHY I don't like it. The points that you make aren't strong points (at least to me, no offense or anything!), I don't think we're giving Holden enough credit here. ;D

Amalii said...


xero27 said...

Like a lot of people you misunderstood the character. Because Holden is the main character, many people confuse him for the protagonist. This is because we read "Catcher" in middle school, and up to this point they have been teaching us that the main character is the protagonist. So people try to identify with him, try to see things from his point of view, try to care about him, try to make him be Tyler Durden or James Dean - this is the big mistake.

You see Holden is the main character, but he is not the protagonist. He is an asshole, a stupid little asshole teenager full of his own shitty ideas. He's REAL that way, he's not a super hero. "Catcher" is the story of a real life asshole, and for a brief moment a very remorseful asshole.

kylezagr8 said...

That book sucked. Thank you for having the balls to speak out against every English teacher in the US who wants to force feed this crap down their students face holes. J. D. Salinger is dead and it is a shame he did not take pile of shit to the grave with him.

Ryan said...

Ya know, I actually have some emo friends (okay one but still) and she is'nt nearly as much of a bitch as fucking Holden is. I swear to god if saliger was stioll alive i'd castrae the fucker

karaelysemargxoxo said...

I could not have said what you said better myself about catcher in the rye. One gets very sick of Holden's stupidity, whininess, and utter lack of care about any part of his life. He thinks he's a real hotshot, but he is really quite a loser, especially with his discussions of all the times he tries to get laid, and fails, and his b.s. to everyone he knows (irritation is added to by the fact that he calls everyone else "phonies"). I know a lot of people who have been "inspired" by this book, and every time they say that, I can't help but ask myself, "what, to be a pathetic failure in life?" Overall, I believe this novel negatively indoctrinates people to believe that Holden's attitude is cool, like "live your life, f*** the rest", whereas, in actuality, it puts a slacking, irresponsible mentality in people's heads .

Drowning said...

I was put onto Catcher in my 30's after expressing how much I liked D.B.C's Vernon Godlittle, the parallel being the main characters of the two books. After reading it I was left completely disappointed and wondering how anyone could compare the two.
Apart from a slow bit in the middle Vernon Godlittle managed to not only get you right into the main character but also allow any male reader to empathize with him on at least some level while all the while being extremely entertained. The payoff at the end is a bit Hollywood with everyone who deserves come uppance getting it and those deserving some reward after their long suffering also getting it. You get the message while enjoying the ride. Nothing about Catcher is enjoyable! You want edgy language adult themes? Then read Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth. Once again you can get it all and have a good time at the same time.
The poor little rich kid making the transition to adulthood as he is kicked from expensive school to expensive school is impossible to feel anything for. I don't care about Holden, his life or what he thinks. He is uninteresting, unintelligent and uninspired. After reading it I was thankful it was less than three hundred pages long.

gallifreyan_fool said...

I'm currently reading it right now and I want to get through it all the way to the end, I don't want to duck out of it, I'd prefer to hate it having read it in full.

It doesn't seem like that much of a story, more of a transcribed recount by someone with a very short attention span who really likes to abuse the word "old" as an adjective.

My psychologist recommended that I read it, proclaiming it the ultimate "teen angst" book - being 16, Holden's age, it might be nice to relate to. Honestly, I can relate to this little prick, but the part of me that relates to him is the part of me that remembers that at one point in my life I was a child of 5 that whinged this way.

I can hear myself thinking "GROW THE FUCK UP" when I'm not trying to find evidence that Holden is a for-real old school psychopath; you know, very glib and superficial, with a very witty charm, feels no remorse or guilt or empathy for his actions, very narcissistic - constantly 'ME ME ME' and when it isn't he hates it, everyone is below him unless they prove themselves to be on par with him, and even then he'll manage to feel "sorry" for them - thinks of life as a game, the jungle, he is the predator and everyone else is the prey (haven't found overwhelming evidence of that yet, but the rest is rather spot-on). I've also not found any evidence that he LOVES people, yes he formed attachments, but I can't really find love.

I don't know, maybe it's a pre-disposition of mine to be a contrarian, and that's why I'm searching for such evidence. I'm trying really really hard to like it, I somehow wanna put this book down when I'm finished with it having learned something, but I'm halfway through, and I don't really see it happening.

With To Kill A Mockingbird, I could tell I'd be moved from Chapter 2, same with The Princess Bride, Meg Cabot had me from the first entry of Princess Diaries.

But with all the hype surrounding it, I really feel disappointed by Catcher in the Rye. I just hope it picks up at some point and proves me wrong.

Creative Conundrum said...

Dear gallifreyan_fool Just so you know, don't get your hopes up. It will not pick up and prove you wrong. I completely agree with the blogger on this one. I feel like people who always spout that they know literature and then site this book are either dim wits trying to play smart by siting a well known book, or they really just somehow relate to the stupidity of the book. I really don't know how this book got wild praise, but it's complete rubbish. I suggest Camus' "The Stranger." There's a character worthy of your time.

lottie said...

Finally! Someone who agrees with me... The Catcher in the Rye is one of the worst books I have have EVER read! I swear to God if I have to listen to one more person say how great it is, i'm going to shoot myself!

joey mastrocola said...

Thank you so much for writting this. I hated this fucking book after i read it and kicked the shit out of al the fags who said they related to that asshole holden. Maby his personality would have made for a good book IF THERE WAS A FUCKING STORY LINE. It was just one long 200 list of shit some 16 year old asshole doesnt like in life and how he is better then me cause i dont care what fucks like him think

DLahr said...

Ok, so I just did a google search "CATCHER IN THE RYE SUCKS" and happened upon your review. I too decided to re-read this turd of a book, although I cannot remember reading it in the first place but I'm sure I had to in high school. I was completely confused, but unable to stop reading this stupid book because I was curious how it was going to end... I was really hoping Holden would kill himself or be murdered... OH WELL.

I pretty much hated it.

zambo said...

This book seems weak to me and I hate the use of phrases such as old so and so and if you want to know the truth. I want to Holden, you are so annoying and seem to remain the same low life you were from the beginning of the story.

Fate/Figma said...

It is always nice to find out one is not crazy and that, yes, catcher in the rye is a really shit novel. So Sir, I salute you. Perhaps as I am not American, (I am Irish) or perhaps because I am a young man. I cannot relate to the supposed greatness of the novel, but I am an avid reader. I have read the good and the bad, the truly great and the truly awful. I have found certain books to be woefully under appreciated, and some truly over hyped. The Catcher In The Rye, is the first novel I have ever truly hated. I DESPISE that book. That vitriolic shite filled spew of a novel. Even the language is agonisingly grating, Just phoneticising the word "Crumby" in my head makes me want to throttle JD Salinger. And the fans. "Revolutionary" they call it. Are they fucking serious? Brave new world is revolutionary. Even today nearly 80 years later, it is awe inspiringly controversial. CITR is the most pedestrian,lethargic broken backed, plotless string of sentences it has been my misfortune to come across. So once again. I salute you.

AnisetteKiss said...

I'm glad this awful book at least brought me the pleasure of finding this review and comment thread.

Sir george said...


You are my hero of the day.

Sean said...

I thought the book was interesting. And i realize that many people disliked the book. But god you are such a contemptible piece of shit in the way you write i coundnt stomach the filth that you spewed on this page (that somehow is close to the top from search links). I honestly stoped reading after you said you where having sex at 13(which clearly is the biggest lie ive heard in a while). Its okay that you dont understand the book, only some people do. But please dont waste my time posting your dumb shit. Your better off sticking the barrel in your mouth and pulling the trigger. I hope you do. I really do.

Nicole said...

I'm reading Catcher in the Rye for English in High School right now, and I hate that damn book! It is soo annoying and irritating, and the fact that he is so repetitive...I don't why we're reading it...I get pissed just reading it....

Giovanna said...

I have never laughed so much. You're argument made so much sense, I laughed the pretentious away.

ChrisZ said...

Can I just say thank you for finally giving an opinion with sense to it? The literary community is far too infatuated with their romantic depictions of Holden Caulfield and the Catcher in the Rye. The book is NOT a timeless gift of God, bestowed upon mankind by the divine Salinger (as so many critics seem to illustrate). It is simply a novel that is a forerunner in its use of profanity and it is a snapshot of a frustrated teenager who is actually an extremely shallow character. I think a lot of people will say they dislike the book because it is an annoying read that is part of the required curriculum of many American high schools. Yet, upon deeper examination, it is clear that The Catcher in the Rye is indeed does not deserve the lauding it receives. I was appalled to read one prominent literary critic's comment that Holden was a misunderstood hero, battling a world of phonies and social infrastructure to achieve true enlightenment. THAT IS SIMPLY DISGUSTING. If anything, an intelligent critic would accept the fact that Holden is an anti-hero, and that is what Salinger intended him to be, like it or not. Salinger never wanted to create a role model in his novel. Don't get me wrong, there are symbolic and rhetorical elements that do make this a book worth valuing TO AN EXTENT. But the praise it receives is for all the wrong reasons, and frankly, those who appreciate the book for anything more than a basic proficiency for writing are pretentiously following in the footsteps of a mistake.

Jeff said...

I definitely get why people hate CitR, and as a teacher, the only inspiration it offers, imho, is that practically every reader can live, choose and think in ways preferable to Holden Caulfield.
Maybe we will learn more when JDS' subsequent works are posthumously released from 2015-2020. I hope so.

Erin Clymer said...

It's so wonderful to find someone who agrees with me on this subject. I wrote an essay in high school on how much I hated that book. My teacher at the time who knew me very well said, "I think your hate for this story originates from the fact that Mark David Chapman referred to it as part of his reasoning for killing John Lennon." She may have been very right since I've been a musical person since i was an infant. However I told her, "Maybe, but Holden Caulfield is a narcissist, and if he didn't think so highly of himself maybe he would have some friends' She absolutely love my critique of the book.

hoghopper said...

For so many years I thought I was the only person who thought this book was pretty much worthless. People whose intelligence and judgment I respected would say things like, "You just don't get it. I guess you don't understand what it really means."

I have never read or heard a satisfying articulation of any of the book's elusive secret, spiritual, or intellectual meanings. Nor have I been clued-in to what it is, exactly, that I don't get about the book.

But your post describes what it is I don't get about it. There really isn't anything there, and I would have to deceive myself to believe there is. Thank you for confirming my intellectual superiority. I feel sorry for all those phony old phonies still running around getting a bang out of Salinger's old trash.