The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

15 02 2010

salingercatcher I listened to The Catcher in The Rye as an audio book read by Ray Hagen.  The setup of the book was great and the reading was more like acting than plain reading and I enjoyed it very much.

The story it self is about Holden Cowfield, a sixteen year old native New Yorker, that had just been sacked from his third prep school.  Instead of going straight home he wonders around New York city for three days.  Holden is the narrator in the story and we get to know his thoughts and reactions to the people he meets.  We get to learn that Holden is a very disgruntled young man that doesn’t seem to like anything at all.  I would guess that the story takes place in the fifties or even sooner.

I’m not familiar with the standing of The Catcher in the Rye in American literature, at least I have heard it quoted or referred to numerous times and that is the reason I decided to give it a try.

Even though it is interesting to look at the life of a teenager at that time I never got invested in the story.  How often I fell asleep right after hitting that play button paints an accurate picture of how interested I was.  The problem for me was that I never got invested in Holden’s life, I didn’t really care how things turned out for him.  Even though the book is well written and the use of language is quite entertaining the story just wasn’t strong enough for me.  It would be interesting to hear from someone that has really enjoyed the story, what angles am I missing?  Is this book perhaps read in American schools?  I’m all ears!

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10 responses

15 02 2010
Natasha De Bernardi

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (1951) is an American classic, not only in schools, but also a cult book for all teenagers (especially when it first came out). Maybe you read it too late in life to really be changed by it. :) J.D. Salinger died at the end of January, so there has been a lot of talk about him (The New York Times ran an excellent obit). He was a very private person and has not published anything in years, but rumor has it that there is a trunk filled of manuscripts waiting to come out posthumously. We’ll see. Another great book of his is FRANNY AND ZOOEY (1961).

16 02 2010
othordarson

I knew that this critique wouldn’t go down with “proper book people” but it’s just my opinion, I was really hoping for a masterpiece but got something far less – I thought :)

16 02 2010
Magga mamma

Þessi Bók heitir á íslensku “Bjargvætturinn í grasinu” og er oft lesin í menntaskólum hér. Höfundurinn dó nýlega um nírætt. Þá hafði hann algerlega dregið sig í hlé og ekki skrifað skáldsögur síðan ´74 eða svo. Einu sinni sendu nemendur í MH honum bréf og hannskrifaði til baka og var ánægður með bréfið. Ég á eftir að lesa hana en ætla mér það á næstunni. : )

19 02 2010
Kyle

Orn,

I found your blog from Lonely Planet. While I hate the LP travel guides, they have lead me to your extremely fascinating blog. It is interesting to read about your current adventures and the path that you guys take. You see, I have been planning for my own backpacking trip in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, so your entries have helped me gain insight about what I should expect for myself when I go – that is, how long traveling from place to place will take, the things I should do, and the things I should skip.

To answer your questions, The Catcher in the Rye is read in most American high schools today. The book really is a rite of passage because it is a book most kids have to read (while willingly). It seems to me that many people can identify, to some extent, with the main character. While I personally hated the book, I have a number of friends from different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds who absolutely enjoy the book. Of course, they’re only 17 when they first read it, so I’m almost positive that has something to do with it…

Keep up the great posts!

Kyle

19 02 2010
othordarson

Thank you for the complement and thanks for the info on the book!

If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact me through the blog and I’m happy to help if I can.

Best regards
– Ö r n –

13 06 2010
Adam

Hello,
I am English, and don’t know of anyone here who had to read the book at school, but it has plenty of fans here. I was probably in my mid-twenties when I first read it, and was also underwhelmed. I suppose it is sort of a guilty pleasure- the chance to relive your teenage years as a privileged kid with enough money to doss in new york for a few days.
I found your site as I’m currently trying to find an audio copy for my father. Like Holden, he’s also from the baby boomer generation and has always had a healthy distrust of phonies, so I thought he could relate to it more than me. I’m not an incredibly literary person. I’m ashamed to say that Catcher in the Rye is one of the oldest books I’ve read! To it’s credit, it doesn’t feel that dated.
I’m currently reading Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller, which was written about ten years before Catcher, and is sort of a more sordid, adult version. It’s also a lot less enjoyable.

4 01 2011
Philippe

Yup – 36 years young and still… I took this book up to find out what all the fuss was about.

I read past the 14th chapter and realized I too did not care what happened to this guy. I fast-forwarded to the last chapter and could not get through it fast enough.

My boss told me to try and appreciate this novel for what it is – written in the 50’s – which is what I did for the most part… But we are realistically living in a world quite removed from whence this novel was wrote. I hope this is not indicative of my nature to prefer living my own life rather than getting stuck in books reading about an another person’s tale…

Write your own story – Forget about history too… It is more fun to repeat it – Trust me!!! There is very little harm in exploration!!! Just don’t call douche-bag pimps a low-life – That’s when you get beat up!!!

7 01 2011
Jesús

Hi, everyone. To me, The Catcher in the Rye is a masterpiece. I don’t think the interest of the story lies on the main character’s experiences, but on how he depicts the people around him – these are criticized with tremendous accuracy, by a teenager who is what those very people would call a misfit, because he doesn’t seem to be able to adapt to their society. In my view, Salinger’s intention is not portraying the life of a misguided teenager – rather, he subtly portrays the American society of the time through the eyes of someone who’s bound to be rejected by it. That is, I think, the point the author ultimately tries to make in this superb book.

Nice blog again, cheers.

7 01 2011
Jesús

Hi, I’d like to add another thing :)

I claim that the book criticizes the American society of the time “with tremendous accuracy” because I think that absolutely all readers would relate to and (most importantly) agree with every single criticism in the story. What he doesn’t like about how the people around him behave are things no-one else would like and everybody else would easily recognize in society. That’s why we finally ask ourselves: is this teenager really a misfit? if he were one, how come we can easily endorse his criticism?

I’d love to know what you people think about this, or if you see the whole thing differently. Cheers.

5 06 2012
here

Re: Whoever produced the comment that this was a great web site genuinely needs to get their brain reviewed.

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