Monday, March 31, 2014
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Author: J.D. Salinger
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Salinger's writing style is fascinating.
I've watched too many true crime shows not to be aware of The Catcher in the Rye's connection to serial killers. As such, it was impossible to read it without thinking about that fact with every chapter.
With so much hype ahead of him, I was expecting Holden Caufield to be a much more sinister character. What I got instead was a scared, aimless teen who's desperation was painfully obvious. The novel has been hailed as a brilliant examination of teenage alienation and isolation and I can see why. Holden doesn't belong and he knows it, but he doesn't know why and that leaves him depressed beyond measure. He wants...something. Something to fill a hole, a void, a something missing within him that no school, no friend, no girl can fill. The things that are supposed to fulfill him simply don't.
And there's no resolution.
At least not one that Salinger cares to share with us. The novel abruptly begins in the first person on Holden's last day at the latest school to kick him out. It abruptly ends a few days later after Holden finally goes home and faces his parents' disappointment and wrath, possibly while suffering from a nervous breakdown.
Alienation and isolation, particularly of the teenage variety, isn't the novelty now that it was when this novel came out. That doesn't lessen the impact, however. I think anyone who reads this novel will find something in Holden to relate to - for me it was boredom with other people. On more than one occasion I've found myself completely unable to relate to the people I see around me at work.
For me, however, the most striking thing was Salinger's writing style. The first person perspective runs rampant in novels these days. It seems like most of the books I read these days are in the first person, but Salinger's style has not been duplicated - at least as far as I've read. It's streamlined, stream of consciousness that feels so incredibly real and effortless - like Salinger sat down and the words just poured from his pen the first time he put it to paper. Bret Easton Ellis owes a LOT to Salinger.
I'm really glad that I finally got around to reading this book. I enjoyed it and I can't say enough about Salinger's writing style. It's a classic that I can check off of my list.