Recently, I decided on a whim to read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger. I have fond memories of reading Catcher from back in high school, and was hungry to read a classic novel. So I found a cheap, used copy on Amazon.com and read it pretty quickly.
I don’t want to turn this into a book review or a paper on Catcher in the Rye, so I’ll keep it short. Honestly, I didn’t like it. I distinctly remember liking it in high school, and reading it now – more than five years later – it flat-out annoyed me. Don’t get me wrong, it is well written and all, but it was just……annoying.
Maybe the tale of a severely emo adolescent is not as appealing now that I am twenty-three, which makes sense to me because since Catcher… is a “coming of age” story, and I was in the process of “coming of age” back in high school , I don’t identify with that stage anymore.
You’re probably thinking “why did you think it was so annoying?” Well, I’ll tell you. Holden Caufield is annoying. He is so incredibly self-centered that all he talks about in any sort of detail is himself. His endless cursing and ad nauseum descriptions of “phonies” get old after a couple chapters. Holden is self-centered to the point of incredibility – he has such a strong dislike of everyone he writes about – save for his kid sister, Phoebe – that he loses any authority to judge others. Holden is not nearly as good a perceptor as he thinks he is.
I did like parts of the book, but as a whole, I did not understand why so many people absolutely love it. I read the book in many different settings, and a decent amount of people – some I know, some I don’t – would come up to me and rave about how much they loved the book. I recognize that it was a revolutionary book – it pushed the boundaries of literature when it was written – but I also am a firm believer that if it was written today, it wouldn’t garner nearly as much fame as it has now. Its popularity is a product of its era.
Without going into too much detail (like on what I liked about the book), I want to know why those who hold so fast to it like it so much. Give me reasons why you like it. Please also let me know how old you were at your last reading of it.