After having it recommended to me a few times, I have finally read my copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger. For a classic book written in the early 1950s it’s certainly unusual. No other classics dare to be quite as edgy, and you certainly don’t find the f word in many boks from the period to which “Catcher…” belongs. I have to say that reading the book was an unusual expierience for several reasons. It is by no means a perfect novel, but it is unpredecentedly original. For someone who was expecting a jolly caper about a teenage boy sightseeing in New York I received quite the shock! I’m not really sure what I can say about this book- it was a very easy ready but certainly not anything I would regard as “amazing” or “special”. I cannot imagine myself revisiting the book often, if at all.
Being a teenager, I felt as though I could identify with Holden Caulfield. He was a worthy narrator. By the end of 214 pages together I felt like I knew his entire life story! I enjoyed hearing his opinions on the world and actually felt as though I agreed with him on many things. We certainly share a slightly cynical view on life, despite our tender years! Even when Holden was doing something I would not necessarily condone I found him hard to dislike. Things Salinger had him say really made me reconsider my views; in fact Holden’s narration may have been the best thing about the novel. There were no other characters I particularly cared about, although Allie and Phoebe were relatively sweet and inoffensive. Now I’ve read the book I understand why Holden Caulfield is associated with teenage angst and rebellion- he’s a young character who dared to be different! I can’t praise Salinger’s insights into Holden’s world more.
One of the best things about “Catcher…” is the truly beautiful way in which it is written. At first glance, it appears to be your average “edgy” read for teens. However, once you consider when the book was written you realise that that is a gross mistake. Despite being published in 1951, “Catcher…” reads just like a modern book. Adopting an edgy tone was clearly Salinger’s tone and he does so, managing to prove he was way ahead of his time in the process. It is incredible to think how he mastered the modern way of writing years before it was considered popular. Having said that, I can see why “Catcher” makes it onto banned book lists, even today. Mistakes in the book were few and far between, with Salinger taking obvious care over his creation.
As a whole I enjoyed “Catcher…” and it certainly made me think. However, it has one major problem. The plot is rather thin! Even for a book about everyday life the plot is meandering at best. Although I read the book relatively quickly, I found myself checking how many pages I had to go. 100- something must happen soon. 50- something better happen. 25, you get the general idea! The ending of the novel was satisfying, but it could have been a tad more dramatic. The book feels as though it “fizzles” out, rather than going out on a high. If the book wasn’t so beautifully written it would be a complete bore, but Salinger’s narration saves it. I definitely feel as though the book could have utilized its potential a bit more. In truth, I expected more from such a famous novel
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it,
you wish the author was a terrific friend of yours”- Holden Caulfield