Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

First impression

I've read so many references to this book, and yet had never approached it. I finally did and how I am happy I finally got to it.

Final thoughts

2 years ago, when my brother came to visit for Christmas I asked him to try to read the book, since I've heard it pleased even the most reluctant of readers. You see, he doesn't like reading, which off course kills me, and I am always in the quest for a book that might work for him, because I would so love to share this with him. Anyway, he made it to page 20 and that was it. So I thought maybe the hype was wrong and finally decided to try it for myself this year. The hype is not wrong, and I have come to terms with the fact that my brother is not a reader.

J.D. Salinger tells the story of a sixteen year old (that somehow I kept picturing like the younger version of Don Draper, including the sleek look) boy named Holden Caulfield. He is facing yet another probable expulsion. He hates phonies (he will let you know that several times) and the story basically shows him a couple of days before winter break, in New York where he meets with Sally, a past girlfriend; goes to a bar and sees his sister; all described with the most cynical and depressive typical voice of a teenager sprinkled with an amazing vocabulary.

One thing that I found extremely fun of this book was the way the dialogue jumped from the page in the way I feel old movies do (think 1930s, which I guess makes sense since Salinger was 16 at this time, and hence he wrote a teenager who spoke the way he did) and so the whole rhythm of the book goes fast and fun and snappy. I loved it. Caulfield is sad, he is depressed it seems to me, but he doesn't know it. He has a lot of disdain for others and yet...and yet he melts into puddles for his sister...the way I would do anything for my brothers.

I was not expecting for this book to touch so many inner fibers, but it did. I can see why it has been challenged over the years; I suppose a teen that behaves like Caulfield does can be deemed inappropriate to some audiences. But I also think people should see Caulfield for what it represents and not as "just a 16 year old who is discontent with this life". He is, to me at least, that part of ourselves that is always weird out by the society around us. This part might be louder in some and almost a whisper in other, but it is always there.

I know there are a lot of subtle details that I probably missed in my first read. There is so much I always miss in book that is written by someone with a different idiosyncrasy, a different culture. But that is not surprise. However, I was a teenager not long ago, and all that represents being in that limbo that is adolescence is beautifully represented in this book. I don't often re read books, but I see myself going back to this one, and probably bringing this review to a full 5. The only reason why is not there yet is because I feel there is still something left in the book for me that I haven't gotten out yet, and so I intend to find it and when I do so, I will revise this review and tell you: I found it!

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