Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

 (Click image to add to your to be read pile)
Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J. D. Salinger
Genre: Classics
Format: Paperback
Buy: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories ? particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme ? With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is fully of children. The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

A reader of mine suggested that I read outside of my usual genres (Teen, Paranormal,etc) and review it for all to see. Even if the review would end up being a one to three star out of a five star rating. And for some reason, I decided to start with The Catcher in the Rye.

Now, being from Bahrain and at the same time home-schooled, I wasn't able to read this in school like the rest of the world. And the only time I heard about this book was from spoken references on TV and in Movies. And as one who reads a lot, I don't feel like a genuine reader without reading the ultimate classics of the 20th Century. So, I begun with The Catcher in the Rye.

Now, let's start with how the book began. We meet Holden narrating that he would be telling us a story about a certain event rather than his entire life like David Copperfield and others of that sort. I actually felt really draw to the book because of the beginning. But slowly, the narration and the dialogue began to annoy me. Holden does admit that he may be a little bit more stupid and childish than normal teens but honestly, Holden just went over the top with his immaturity. He would fake an injury just to get into a conversation with random people on the street or in a subway.

Throughout the book, all we read is how Holden lies his way through a few days in his life. And it's not the kind of lying that will get you to high places and actually accomplish something with. It's the useless kind that is done because you're bored and you need something to do. Likewise, Holden is reckless, impulsive, and a compulsive liar but he is sincere in his own way. When he speaks about his siblings, you know his love for them is true and honest just by the way he describes them.

The terminology and dialogue is very different and sometimes, I had to stop and think about what Holden really means. They're using slang we don't use anymore and it's not the 'radical' kind its the, 'I don't know it too hot (too much)' kind. What irritated me the most was the repetition in some dialogue. For example, a conversation between Holden's so-called-girlfriend speaks and Holden: "Look, I have to know. Are you or aren't you coming over to help me trim the tree... I have to know" And more of this type of repetition goes on and on in the book.

To be utterly honest, I expected the book to be all about Holden's out of the world experience. Only to have it about his thoughts and experiences within a couple of days or so. I guess, the greatest journeys do happen the shortest of times. I enjoyed the book and found it captivating in its own irritating way. And I will always remember my favorite parts, the conversations he had with Cab Drivers and the little time he spent with his sister, Phoebe.

Overall, I liked this book a lot more than I expected. The writing style, dialogue, storyline (or lack of it), and characters hold their own uniqueness that we can't find in books now-a-days. And I can't help but admire that about classics like 'The Catcher in the Rye'.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I love comments they're what keeps me going with this blog.