Catcher in the Rye Review

This was the secret alternate pick for December 2012.  Only I didn’t have a copy, you can’t download it to Kindle, and there is no AUDIO BOOK!!  Finally, I ponied up after listening to the two Crash Course literature discussions on it.  John Green, you’ve convinced me to not just shell out some money for it, I’m going to go ahead and buy the library binding hardcover because Amazon never stops me from buying library copies and let’s be honest.  At this point, I think my books qualify as a library.  In fact, John Green, with this purchase, I’m trusting you that I will love this book like I love your discussion of it.

Sigh.  So, I have been reading a few pages here and there between diapers and work and sleep and walking the dogs and working on my own book.  Even still I slammed the last bit out last night.  It was lovely!

The thing about Catcher in the Rye is, I read it in high school.  (Of my own free will, btw, not as an assignment.)  And back then, I was like… meh.


But this time through, the whole time, I kept thinking this is the most amazing “voice.”  This is why people who write first-person should be careful that their narrators voice is distinct and unique.  Otherwise, you’re failing even if telling a story from first person is easier.  (My book is third-person.  I’m no Salinger.)

And then after I was done marveling over the voice, I was marveling over the thoughts.  It isn’t very often when I stop reading a book and think–wow, that was a well done: thought, sentence, scene   But J.D. Salinger, I know your dead; I know you weren’t cool with being famous, but I love this book.

I mean look at this:

“I gave her a look.  She didn’t look like any dope to me.  She looked like she might have a pretty damn good idea what a bastard she was the mother of.  But you can’t always tell–with somebody’s mother, I mean.  Mothers are all slightly insane.”

Or this:

I don’t want you to get the idea she was a goddam icicle or something, just because we never necked or horsed around much.  She wasn’t.  I held hands with her all the time, for instance.  That doesn’t sound like much, I realize, but she was terrific to hold hands with.

Or this:

I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.  It’s awful.

Don’t those just snatch you in or ring true or make you want to keep on going?  Do you care about the plot?  All you really care about is whether or not Holden ever holds hands with Jane again and if Phoebe loves the record he got her and if he ever moves past his brother’s death to become as wonderful as the spark of him shows.  What’s the plot?  Who the heck cares?  What you’re reading is so lovely it just doesn’t matter.

Do I recommend The Catcher in the Rye?  Absolutely.  In fact, I imagine I’ll be reading it again shortly.  BTW, John Green was right about The Great Gatsby too.  If you like lit discussions, you should check out his show on youTube called Crash Course Literature.  It was lovely.

Now I just wish I could approach Salinger’s abilities in writing.



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