Monday, June 22, 2009

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J. D. Salinger
# pages: 214
Date published: 1951
Genre: young adult classic

First sentence(s):

“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. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”
What is it all about? I could tell from the first couple of sentences that I was going to like this book. The narrator, Holden Caulfield, is your typical teenager -- disgruntled, alienated, aimless, and sarcastic -- and, at times, he cracked me up. For those of you (like me) who didn’t get a chance to read this coming-of-age story in high-school, it’s mainly about the people that Holden meets and his experiences during a three day visit to New York City after being expelled from yet another prep school. At times, I found myself feeling sorry for Holden. At other times, he made me laugh out loud. And still others I wanted to smack him upside the head. See? Typical teenager...

Fun tidbits:
  • The Catcher in the Rye was chosen as one of the 100 all-time best novels by Time magazine
  • J. D. Salinger’s full name is Jerome David (don’t know why I found that interesting, but I did)
  • Since its publication in 1951, the book has been a target for people who wish to censor it. In fact, it is third on the list of most challenged books of the 1990s. Critics that seek to remove the book from classrooms and libraries often cite its profanity, blasphemy, the undermining of family values and moral codes, smoking, and lying as reasons for banning. Sorry. I don’t see it. Yes, there is profanity in the book. Have these people hung around at a high-school (or middle-school) recently? I mean, in 1951, when the book was first published, I could see people being a little shocked at the language and rebellion in the book. But in 2001 (the last year I could find reference to someone trying to ban the book)? Come on, people, give it a rest...
  • A Swedish author, Fredrik Colting, has written a(n unauthorized) sequel to The Catcher in the Rye called 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, that depicts an elderly Holden Caulfield. Ninty-year-old Salinger has sued to block its publication calling the book “a rip-off pure and simple.” As of June 17, 2009, a New York federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the U.S. publication of the book. What do you think? Should someone be allowed to write an unauthorized sequel to a book that isn’t theirs? A Harry Potter book by someone other than J.K. Rowling? A Twilight sequel by a different author? What about Scarlett (billed as a sequel to Gone With the Wind)?


Heather said...

I have to agree with Mr. Salinger. I hated Scarlett. It is one thing to continue a series with the authors permission, or the trust of the authors permission i.e V.C. Andrews, Robert Ludlum, J.R. Tolkin.

Kristi said...

I agree with him as well. I've never read Scarlett, but I've heard it was pretty awful. At least Mitchell was dead when it came out and didn't have to hear about it. Oh and the guy that used Holden Caulfield? He tried to tell the judge it was 'literary criticism.' The judge said she didn't see it. Uh...yeah... And if I were in Mr. Salinger's shoes, I would've sued the guy's pants off ;o).

Jeane said...

I don't think anyone should write a sequel to another author's work unless they have their permission, or the original author has been dead and gone a long time (no one complains much about the works that jump off of Austen novels, or play on Shakespeare, do they?)

I love Catcher in the Rye- for all the reasons you said. So completely inside a teenager's head. And even with his attitude and rebellious attitude, there's something I like about Holden. He's a decent guy, deep down.

Louise said...

I read Catcher a few years back, and really could not understand the banning-of-book fuss, although, as you say youself, when it first came out, it may have been a bit shocking with the language, what little sex there is in and so on, but in the 21st Century? I say like you: Give it a rest!

And I don't think that that Swedish author should be allowed to publish that book, of course not. At least he will have to change the name of the main character, and who will believe him anyway if he does that?