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bluegrassandyb
11-14-2006, 02:18 AM
I just finished this book and I don't get it. Maybe I'm not as smart as I'd like to think I am, but what was the plot? The theme? It seems to me that I was just following a nut-job all over New York City. I kept waiting for something to happen, anything that resembled a plot. The copy I read had 241 pages; if you took out all instances of the phrase "goddamn", it would have been about 200 pages. I understand it was written around 1945, and was considered groundbreaking at the time; I just don't understand why.
This is the reason John Lennon was murdered???

janetbellinger
11-14-2006, 04:31 AM
It was considered groundbreaking for many reasons. It's a young person speaking in first person. When the book was written this was unheard of. Young adult fiction, if it existed, was written by adults in a condescending moralistic way. This book in comparison captured the spirit of the times. I think it was written later than 1945, probably in the 1960s when self expression in young people first came into vogue. Don't forget, when this book was written, young people still were in generation wars with their parents, who had all the power. We have come such a long way since the book was written and we have come to expect creative expression in novels. But this book led the way for many other authors to come.

pdr
11-14-2006, 01:13 PM
1951, the book was still highly controversial when I was old enough to read it a few years later.

It was roundly and soundly condemned by the established authorities (Church, State and Public Opinion in respectable newspapers!) as an incitement to self indulgent, egotistical behaviour where an individual was encouraged to put hirself and hir needs before duty to parents and nation. The lack of discipline and self restraint shown by Holden was genuinely shocking to a majority of people, especially after WW11 where so many had given up so much.

Critical acclaim goes something like: the novel is about the human condition. Or the psychological battles of Holden Caulfield, his self-destruction during the novel make the reader think about society's attitude to the human condition. It's also held to be: a critical look at the problems facing American youth during the 1950's.

I flicked through it again a few years ago. Incredibly depressing. I mean poor old Holden has a nervous breakdown and does nothing but get more depressed. And yes, I don't find the plot interesting although the character is.

janetbellinger
11-14-2006, 07:41 PM
Maybe some people are more interested in characters than plot. I know I am. Maybe it's a female thing although I hate to make gender distinctions. I can only speak for myself. If the character gets my sympathy and attention then I am hooked. If it does not, then it doesn't matter what happens in the book, I am not satisfied with it.

KTC
11-14-2006, 07:50 PM
This book is the perfect example of how I would like to write. I am not a fan of plot. I know that sounds ludicrous, but oh well. I'm sure this book has one...but I don't look to define a plot. I go where the day takes me. And I love this book. It's not my favourite Salinger...in fact, if pressed I would say it's my least favourite Salinger title. My favourite is the Glass family stories...especially FRANNY & ZOOEY and Raise High the roof beam, carpenters.

C.bronco
11-14-2006, 08:02 PM
I read it when I was 13 and was unimpressed. I didn't like Holden; I thought he was a whiny, spoiled kid. If I read it now, I don't know if I'd come to a different conclusion.

SylviaDiamandez
11-15-2006, 07:24 AM
If you re-read it, notice how protective Holden is of his younger sister Phoebe, and how upset he becomes near the story's end when he hears curses or finds a certain four letter word written on or scratched into a flat surface. He may be self-destructive, but there's good within him.

Silver King
11-15-2006, 08:16 AM
where an individual was encouraged to put hirself and hir needs before duty to parents and nation.
P, is this a new spelling trend to correct gender bias in writing, or have I just been lost at sea too long and should've noticed it earlier?

CBeasy
11-15-2006, 08:31 AM
This may very well be my favorite book. Its must read for young adults, or anyone who feels lost in the currents of life.

K1P1
11-15-2006, 09:58 AM
I read it when I was 13 and was unimpressed. I didn't like Holden; I thought he was a whiny, spoiled kid. If I read it now, I don't know if I'd come to a different conclusion.

I felt exactly the same way. Poor little rich kid. I recently wondered if I'd react differently now, but it's not high on my list of priorities.

CBeasy - what is it that you like so much about it?

travelgal
11-15-2006, 11:04 AM
I didn't like it, either. I didn't get it. It made me feel stupid. I disliked Holden, didn't see a plot, didn't see a resolution. I had to read this in secondary school and I thought it was drivel. It's one of the few books I never finished.

KTC
11-15-2006, 03:08 PM
If you re-read it, notice how protective Holden is of his younger sister Phoebe, and how upset he becomes near the story's end when he hears curses or finds a certain four letter word written on or scratched into a flat surface. He may be self-destructive, but there's good within him.

Oh my God...he is brimming over with goodness. That's what I got out of it anyway. But that is a perfect example. His sister is INNOCENCE. There is something about Holden that makes him the saddest character in all of fictiondom. His realization that everything is a gimmick...that everybody is out for themselves and greed rules the world. He is a boy on the cusp of entering the world of adulthood...a world he loathes because he sees how fake everybody becomes. I think I probably felt the same way as him the first time I read it. I'm guessing I was about 12 or 13? I knew I was heading for the same ugly 'grown-up' world that Holden was entering. I read the goodness in him throughout the entire book. It bristled me.

Unique
11-15-2006, 03:53 PM
kev. you're biased. that salinger tattoo gives you away.

KTC
11-15-2006, 04:01 PM
I know, Unique. I'm guilty of camping out at the end of his driveway. I had my middle name changed to Zachary Martin Glass.

bluegrassandyb
11-15-2006, 06:54 PM
I am a big fan of character driven stories; I just assumed there had to be a plot in there somewhere. I was fascinated by Holden, repulsed, but fascinated. Growing up, I had the same feelings of disgust with the "fakeness" of adults. I actually finished this book in two days. The relationship with Phoebe made me nervous, I kept expecting there to be an element of abuse. Maybe I'll try one of his other works. Are they all along the same vein, i.e. character driven, plotless?

Southern_girl29
11-15-2006, 08:04 PM
Catcher in the Rye is actually one of my all time favorite books. Holden is scared, and Salinger does a perfect job of getting that across. It's been a while since I've read it. I need to get my copy out and reread it, but I doubt my opinion of it will change.

blacbird
11-16-2006, 03:38 AM
I think it's a young person's book. I read it at about 18 or 19, and found it effective and engaging. I've looked at it a couple of times in later years, and it seems much less interesting. I don't think it wears well into a second reading, or being read at a later age.

caw

civilian chic
11-16-2006, 05:05 AM
I agree, blacbird; when I first read it in high school, I was blown away. Reading it a few years ago, I can't think of why. Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters, though, still does. And Nine Stories.

Some books, especially those that address cultural renaissance, have to be read at a particular point in one's life. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein rocked my then-17-year-old world.

SylviaDiamandez
11-16-2006, 05:27 AM
He's not exactly brimming over with goodness. Through most of the book, he's a jerk. When you're sixteen, peer pressure means you have to go along -- with the other jerks -- to get along. But little things poke through, like giving the two nuns ten dollars at breakfast, and being upset by the two men cursing at the Christmas tree. JDS shows us just enough of this side of Holden to suggest there's more under the surface.

KTC
11-16-2006, 03:07 PM
I think he's brimming with goodness, which is the reason he's so disheveled in his head. There's a huge conflict between, "I don't give a rat'sass" and, "I care too much about everything."

janetbellinger
11-16-2006, 06:32 PM
You're probably right about reading it at the right time. I read it in my y outh as well and have not reread it. Some novels are enjoyed most if you just read them once.

WerenCole
11-16-2006, 11:28 PM
I am holding this book in my hands as I write this. It hasn't been more than 20 feet from me in about a month.

I am writing a 8 page paper on Catcher (again) in about a week. I have read this book more than 20 times and that is not hyperbole. Read it for fun as a kid, three times in high school, five for college courses, and numerous times in between. I can talk like old Caulfield if I wanted too. Boy that Caulfield, what a card. I always hated that word card, so goddamn phony. People who use that word are all a bunch of phony jerks, I swear. Honestly, you would never catch me saying that someone is a card.

Hold is:
Scared of Confrontation
Inable to take responsibility for his actions
Inherently hypocritical
Inherently generous and altruistic
A little misguided.

Catcher in the Rye. . "When a body catch a body coming through the rye. . ." Holden wants to be the catcher that saves children from falling over the cliff after they emerge from the rye field. He wants to preserve the innocence of children and at the same time is struggling to hold onto his own innocence. He is deeply affected by the death of his little brother Allie. . . almost to the point of complete neurosis. At the end, when it is raining and he is sitting on the bench watching his little sister on the Carousel he is crying because he is witnessing one of her last true moments of childhood innocence. He shows a classic case of an perpetual type of male syndrome post-ejaculatory depression. . . guys, you know what I am talking about. After the orgasm when you just want to leave, get away, a little satisfaction mixed with a little self loathing. Think about it next time you. . .

Not sure where the whole serial killer rep came from, I think that serial killers probably share a lot of anger and neurosis that Holden has in this book.

Oh well.

kristie911
11-16-2006, 11:46 PM
I loved this book, in fact it's one of my all time favorites. I read it in high school and have read it several times as an adult. It blew me away then and while it doesn't necessarily blow me away now, I am so drawn into the story and the character, I still can't put it down once I start it.

Yes, I agree it seems to be plotless, just this kid wandering around the city but his internal conflict is so compelling, it makes up for the plotlessness (is that a word?). Maybe I can just relate. I remember when I first read it, I thought, "wow, someone does get what's going on inside my head." Now I just think, "wow, I've come so far but I remember what it felt like then."

Definitely a must read!

KTC
11-16-2006, 11:47 PM
Seems I found the other Biggest Fan of this book?

SylviaDiamandez
11-17-2006, 07:11 AM
I always thought Allie was the second oldest Caulfield kid, after DB, but before Holden and Phoebe. Holden tells us he died on July 18, 1946. He remembers the exact date. If he was sixteen in 1949/50 (if the publishing date is 1951, that's a reasonable guess re the time frame of the story), he would have been thirteen when Allie died, and even younger in the remembering-Allie-playing-golf flashback.

WerenCole
11-17-2006, 07:14 AM
In the beginning he tells us that he was three years older than Allie. I would find the page number but my head hurts from a long day.

Maybe tomarrow.

Serenity
11-19-2006, 07:07 PM
At the end, when it is raining and he is sitting on the bench watching his little sister on the Carousel he is crying because he is witnessing one of her last true moments of childhood innocence.

You are talking about my absolute, most favorite scene in the whole book. It has one line that I think sums up what Holden is going through/thinking/feeling, is- in my opinion- related to one of the major themes in the book, and is something that I quote to this day:

"Blessed are the dead that the rain falls on."

I haven't read the book in a while (something like 16 or 17 years), nor do I have it with me, so I hope I'm not remembering the line wrong. I'm pretty sure it's right. Holden experiences so much death in his life, and it drives him. Is the character an a$$? Yes. Does he genuinely want to do good? Yes to that as well.

Rolling Thunder
11-23-2006, 02:56 AM
Never read the book. Until I went through this thread. So, today I stopped at the library and picked it up along with Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' and "Grapes of Wrath'.

I love long holiday weekends.:)

KTC
11-23-2006, 04:00 AM
I just reread Of Mice And Men. I love that story. You're in for some fun!

aghast
11-23-2006, 06:03 AM
the questin is would this book be publised in 2006 and become a best seller - seems like todays world is so fast paced and impatient and thirsty for a thrilling plot that pure characer study novels like that would die before they even have a chance

Rolling Thunder
11-24-2006, 05:20 AM
Well, I finished it today. Bluuuurg. My first thought on ‘Catcher’ is Mr. Salinger wrote it as a whim even though he claims it took him ten years (on and off) to complete. Sure, the metaphorical musings and symbolism are tightly wound but I don’t believe he thought the book would ever become the controversial icon it did. I don’t blame him for withholding the motion picture copyright. (I did find a comment about him being quoted: ‘Mr. Caulfield would be displeased with a movie’). I wonder if this is a metaphor on why he’s been quiet for such a long time; from his own feelings the book is his secret shame.


Anywho. Gonna go try to kill off the grey matter harboring this book. A pint of whiskey should do the trick. Besides, Steinbeck is waiting for me. Hopefully, He can resurrect by faith in the literary genre.

KTC: Damn, I hope you're right about MICE. I have TORTILLA FLAT as well, so if OM&M grabs me I'll go on to that story.

rhymegirl
11-25-2006, 08:34 AM
This book is the perfect example of how I would like to write. I am not a fan of plot. I know that sounds ludicrous, but oh well. I'm sure this book has one...but I don't look to define a plot. I go where the day takes me. And I love this book.

I love it, too.

I was discussing with Neurofizz (who is reading my young adult novel which is written in the first person) the idea of a writer trying to capture a young person's method of speaking. Salinger does it perfectly in this novel. He has Holden say things like "So I was telling you what happened and all". He does not speak in perfect English. He uses the passive voice. He uses slang. I say that's perfectly fine to do if you are writing in the first person and you have a teen narrator.

I think this novel is one of those "internal monologues"--someone telling the readers what he felt and experienced--thinking out loud.

rhymegirl
11-25-2006, 08:42 AM
Catcher in the Rye. . "When a body catch a body coming through the rye. . ." Holden wants to be the catcher that saves children from falling over the cliff after they emerge from the rye field. He wants to preserve the innocence of children and at the same time is struggling to hold onto his own innocence.

Yes, this is the point of the book.

aliajohnson
11-25-2006, 08:55 AM
I think this book is similar to the Dada movement. It needed to be done. It opened doors, and its value can't be overstated for that reason.

But now that it HAS been done, please, please let's not do it again.

Sorry, but I found it mind-numbingly dull as well. And yeah, I felt he was a whiny rich kid I couldn't connect with in any way. Then again, I read it as an adult, not a teenager, and I'm willing to consider that has a lot to do with my opinion.

Haggis
11-25-2006, 09:11 AM
I read this first when I was a kid of 13 or 14 or so. The next time I read it was about 6 months ago. I didn't remember the book at all.

Didn't he do something unspeakable with a raw liver when I was 13? I swear he did, but it isn't in my current copy.

Anyhow, I think the book is more meaningful for a precocious teenager than it is for an old fart like me. Holden is an engaging character, true, but I just feel like smacking him upside the head for his attitude. It's a coming of age book, sure, but I have little sympathy for a rich, spoiled character when there are folks out there like Huck Finn who might benefit from my concern.

blacbird
11-25-2006, 10:57 AM
Didn't he do something unspeakable with a raw liver when I was 13? I swear he did, but it isn't in my current copy.


You're thinking of Portnoy's Complaint, by Philip Roth.

caw

KTC
11-26-2006, 03:30 AM
I love it, too.

I was discussing with Neurofizz (who is reading my young adult novel which is written in the first person) the idea of a writer trying to capture a young person's method of speaking. Salinger does it perfectly in this novel. He has Holden say things like "So I was telling you what happened and all". He does not speak in perfect English. He uses the passive voice. He uses slang. I say that's perfectly fine to do if you are writing in the first person and you have a teen narrator.

I think this novel is one of those "internal monologues"--someone telling the readers what he felt and experienced--thinking out loud.

I agree totally with everything you said, Kath. I'd love to read your novel if you need another beta?

britwrit
11-29-2006, 07:01 PM
I read it as a teenager and then I just reread it a few months ago (as a 35-year-old). Holden gets a tiny little bit tiresome but wow, what a wonderful picture of old New York. I hope Salinger has a sequel tucked away up in Cornish and that he doesn't burn it before he dies.

Jamesaritchie
12-03-2006, 02:45 AM
the questin is would this book be publised in 2006 and become a best seller - seems like todays world is so fast paced and impatient and thirsty for a thrilling plot that pure characer study novels like that would die before they even have a chance

Even in 2006, there are still many, many literary novels published that are written much like Catcher.

It's really an impossible question, but I'd sure read Catcher again if it were just being published, and many of the novels I do read today are literary novels that do not have a fast pace and a trhilling plot.

Look at novels like The Bridges of Madison County, or much of the writing Nicolas Sparks does, or that of a couple of dozen purely literary writers, and you'll find many a novel written along the lines of Catcher.

Sparks also has a bit of excellent writing advice on his website. http://nicholassparks.com/WritersCorner/Index.html

KTC
12-03-2006, 02:49 AM
The novel that made me first stand up and say, "Now I get what they mean by literary!" was Old School by Tobias Wolff. It is simultaneously a lot like Catcher and nothing like it. I think that if you're a catcher fan you would be an Old School fan. It's a great literary novel from about 2003. It first appeared, as excerpts, in The New Yorker...I loved it so much then that I couldn't wait to get my hands on the hard cover when it came out. It's a fabulous read. If you like Catcher, go check it out...

CBeasy
12-03-2006, 07:14 AM
This is one of my absolute favorites. I don't know, maybe I just relate to it on a few different levels, but that book really spoke to me.

CBeasy
12-03-2006, 05:57 PM
Well, I haven't read this book since I was a teenager, so perhaps I'd get something different from it if I read it now, as an adult. The book just really fit in with the place I was in my life when I first read it, and it actually helped me out a bit.

Jamesaritchie
12-03-2006, 08:46 PM
It just always seemed to me like a book that might speak to the young and angsty, but coming from an adult that wasn't feeling nostalgic or empathic, it just seemed... immature.

It's supposed to seem immature because Holden Caulfield is immature. This is a novel of someone caught between milk and meat, as my grandparents would have said. It's a better novel for adults than for the young. It does speak to the young and angsty, I think, but it's main purpose is to make the older generation understand the young and angsty.

CBeasy
12-04-2006, 08:02 AM
It's supposed to seem immature because Holden Caulfield is immature. This is a novel of someone caught between milk and meat, as my grandparents would have said. It's a better novel for adults than for the young. It does speak to the young and angsty, I think, but it's main purpose is to make the older generation understand the young and angsty.
Well put.

scarletpeaches
12-04-2006, 08:15 AM
Catcher in the Rye. . "When a body catch a body coming through the rye. . ." Holden wants to be the catcher that saves children from falling over the cliff after they emerge from the rye field.

The song's actually calling "Comin' through the rye," and the lyrics are "...meets a body." (Rabbie Burns). The whole catcher thing comes from Holden's dream, not a song.

rosemarykenndal
01-04-2007, 05:21 AM
I've recently read this. I'm actually reading it again, because I'm trying to decide if I like it.

So far I feel Holden is Bi-polar and possibly has A.D.D. Which explains his imaturity. I don't think J.D. wrote it as a way for adults to gain some nostolgia. I think it's meant to make teens think about their lives, because the later teen years are rather crucial.

Holden on a whim, goes to New York because he realizes that he's a failiure and needs to figure out what he's like outside of prep schools. To put it simply, the book is about adolesent soul searching. In those three days in the city Holden tries to find himself. Salinger is elusive on whether whether or not he succeeds. He leaves it open to inturpetation, in order to trigger the thinking process so that the induvigual reading starts to reflect on their own lives.

That's what I got out of it, anyway.

tenpenynail
01-07-2007, 01:29 AM
I read it 1st at age 18. And I didn't like the book. Well, it was more than that--I was afraid of the book. I couldn't take it in because a large part of me felt like Holden--and yet I was in the "committed to normal" phase of my life.

I had an awful childhood and a lot of unfelt feeling--and so couldn't take the book.

Then I read it in my 30's, when I was beginning to let of of 'trying to be normal,' realizing that yes my childhood impacted my now, and making peace with who I am. I liked Holden a lot better this time around. I wasn't afraid of his angst and anger.

I love it when Holden watches his sister on the carousel--watching her reach for the brass ring. "All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them."

Like Holden, I had finally grown up and realized I couldn't control everything. I finally knew that life was 10% what I make it and 90% how I take it.

martand
02-20-2007, 11:57 AM
the questin is would this book be publised in 2006 and become a best seller
I think it will. It is the perfect book for existentialistic kind of people. And you can find a lot more Holdens now, than you'd have found then.

gingerwoman
10-07-2007, 03:57 AM
There is something about Holden that makes him the saddest character in all of fictiondom. His realization that everything is a gimmick...that everybody is out for themselves and greed rules the world. He is a boy on the cusp of entering the world of adulthood...a world he loathes because he sees how fake everybody becomes.
But it's so tiring now. It seems every young person these days thinks like that and EVERYTHING isn't fake, that's what annoys me. I vaugely remember some female character in the book tries to show him a bit of affection and it "oh yuck she's fake"...well how does he KNOW.
The book annoyed me and all the young people I have met on the internet who are so cynical annoy me because...yes a lot of things are fake but that's not a reason to close your heart off to EVERYONE.

nerds
10-07-2007, 05:40 AM
A few points made in the Catcher in the Rye thread, about its being a better read for some when they were younger and not so much later on, made me think of the inverse - books we like to return to at least once if not more.

Rye didn't hold up for me when I read it a second time around age 30. And yet, two of Salinger's other books, Roof Beam and Franny and Zooey, are the only two books I make a point to re-read annually.

Sometimes I'll revisit a book because it's an old favorite, (all the time with old mysteries) but often it's to see if I will get more or different things from it with a different (older) mindset.

Does anyone have cherished favorites they return to from time to time? Or maybe a book that wasn't a favorite the first time around but was a better read when given a second shot?

:)

Gaia
10-07-2007, 03:49 PM
I agree that everything isn't fake but there is a point in life - between childhood and adulthood - where all the illusions of childhood are broken down so everything seems fake. That's how teenagers feel. And to me Holden is just a typical teenager trying to figure life out and he's scared as hell. I love this book because it describes so well how teenagers act and think - one minute they're absolute jerks, the next minute they're brimming with goodness because they trying to find their own identity and trying to break free of peer pressure and their parents and all of that junk.

And I love the "plotlessness" too btw. If the character can carry the story and the change in the character is strong enough then I don't need a bigger plot than that. But that's maybe because I love diving into the human mind.

General Joy
10-09-2007, 04:11 PM
I absolutely loved Catcher in the Rye... I've never read a modern book that resembled it in the least. The only book that reminded me of it (which I recommend for fellow Catcher fans) is Knut Hamsun's Hunger.

gerrydodge
10-10-2007, 02:17 AM
I am really learning to hate this book, but I have to teach it every year for the past fifteen years or so--which means I have to read it every year again. But yes, groundbreaking because I think mostly it was the first voice in American fiction--who came from privilege--who was going against the "establishment" (government, church, privileged classes). Holden sees everyone as a phony because everyone is looking for what they can get without any real human investment of their own. I always love the part where Holden doesn't make it with Sunny the prostitute because he sees her going in and buying a dress and that the people in the store only see her as a fellow human and not someone selling their body. Those parts of the novel are groundbreaking and very poignant.

Funny though, I've been teaching THE GREAT GATSBY for as many years and I never get tired of that novel. Now that is a masterpiece!

James81
07-30-2008, 09:35 PM
Anybody else read this book? (From what I hear some high school English classes make you read it, but mine never did)

I just finished it and I loved it.

It's one of the few books I've read that actually had me cracking up and laughing out loud in some spots. Holden's attitude was hilarious in some spots.

But for the most part it was just a very entertaining book about nothing. lol

alleycat
07-30-2008, 09:37 PM
We were just talking about Catcher on the sister site (not) Written in Stone the other day. You might like posting your question there as well.

Stew21
07-30-2008, 09:43 PM
When I read Catcher for the first time (many years ago), I read it in one night. I loved it.

James81
07-30-2008, 10:11 PM
When I read Catcher for the first time (many years ago), I read it in one night. I loved it.

Yeah, I read it in one sitting. About 4 hours.

Jersey Chick
07-31-2008, 12:39 AM
I read it for the first time my senior year in high school. And it's one of my absolute favorites - read about once a year now.

Mr. Fix
07-31-2008, 12:41 AM
We acted out many of the chapters in my acting class when I was young. It works amazingly well on stage as a 'spoken book.' I still look back fondly, and occationally reread, the book.:Thumbs:

Shadow_Ferret
07-31-2008, 12:51 AM
It was one of those books I was forced to read in High School and I loathed it. Have never attempted a re-read.

I did read Catcher in the Wry by Bob Uecker. Very funny.

akiwiguy
07-31-2008, 02:10 AM
You might like Vernon God Little, by DBC Pierre. It controversially won a Booker a few years ago, generally well received by the British but slammed by a lot of Americans as being typical anti-American satire by someone who's never even been there.

All that aside, I liked it, and point being that its characterisation has drawn a lot of comparisons with Catcher, for obvious reasons once you read it.

Myasandar
07-31-2008, 03:33 AM
I got a discount on this book because the guy in the bookshop thought it was so crap no one should have to pay full price. He just went: "Oh, you must be a student? That's such a terrible book, you can get a student discount on all text books" I'm not sure that actually extended to fiction books, even classics. I was a student, but not in English. He didn't even ask me to show my card as he would usually have done...

Still ain't got around to reading it. He made me so paranoid!

James81
07-31-2008, 04:30 PM
I got a discount on this book because the guy in the bookshop thought it was so crap no one should have to pay full price. He just went: "Oh, you must be a student? That's such a terrible book, you can get a student discount on all text books" I'm not sure that actually extended to fiction books, even classics. I was a student, but not in English. He didn't even ask me to show my card as he would usually have done...

Still ain't got around to reading it. He made me so paranoid!

What a shit head. (the guy, not you)

Shadow_Ferret
07-31-2008, 05:07 PM
Why? He gave out a discount he probably didn't have to. Sounds like a decent guy to me.

James81
07-31-2008, 05:33 PM
Why? He gave out a discount he probably didn't have to. Sounds like a decent guy to me.

Influencing people to not read things isn't very good business practice if you are in the business of selling books. lol

Shadow_Ferret
07-31-2008, 05:36 PM
I guess I assumed it was a campus bookstore and the clerk was just a student who worked there part-time.

Maybe I infered too much?

mab
07-31-2008, 05:57 PM
Myasandar- doubtless that bloke was forced to read it at school and still resents the fact. I read it for pleasure as a teen and loved it, I've read it a few times now, still do, its a good depiction of adolescence, and sort of wrapped up with my teenage memories in my mind. Some people hate the old-fashioned slang, or the (privileged but unhappy) MC...you might go either way but its definitely worth reading!

Williebee
07-31-2008, 06:04 PM
I read it the first time when I was about 13-14. Really enjoyed it.
Read it again a couple years ago. Had a completely opposite experience. Holden's a whiny, worthless brat. (Lord, help me. I've become "the man".)

vixey
07-31-2008, 06:06 PM
Funny you mention this book. I read it for the first time around Easter (Spring break for the kids). I loved it! And while I agree much of it was hilarious, I found most of the situations Holden gravitated to disturbing. Maybe it's because I have an eighteen year old son (?).

Anyway, I'm on a mission to pick up the old classics in my house and read them. That same week I read House of the Seven Gables. I found that oddly funny, too! To Kill a Mockingbird is next . . .

vixey
07-31-2008, 06:07 PM
I read it the first time when I was about 13-14. Really enjoyed it.
Read it again a couple years ago. Had a completely opposite experience. Holden's a whiny, worthless brat. (Lord, help me. I've become "the man".)
Don't you think he's deeply disturbed by his brother's death?

Shadow_Ferret
07-31-2008, 06:08 PM
Yeah...if I owned or worked in a bookstore, I'd still sell James Frey's Million Crappy Pieces. I wouldn't wipe my ass with it, but I wouldn't try to influence customers away from it.
Guess I have more of a conscious. If a book is crap, I wouldn't recommend it and might even actively recommend against it.

I'd probably even display it in such a way that it would make it difficult to find.

vixey
07-31-2008, 06:12 PM
**Breathes a sigh of relief that KTC has changed his avatar**

James81
07-31-2008, 06:16 PM
Yeah...if I owned or worked in a bookstore, I'd still sell James Frey's Million Crappy Pieces. I wouldn't wipe my ass with it, but I wouldn't try to influence customers away from it.


I'd love to display Frey's book inside a toilet in the front window.

Ha ha, I think you are just trying to get a rise out of me. :tongue

Shadow_Ferret
07-31-2008, 06:27 PM
I'd love to display Frey's book inside a toilet in the front window.
What a great window display! All the crap books are displayed surrounding a toilet, strung with what looks like used toilet paper, with brown spots smeared on the book jackets, maybe some fake water, so it looks like the toilet backed up and these came out.

James81
07-31-2008, 06:29 PM
Oh Christ! You're not THAT James, are you????!!!

:roll:

Ha ha, hell no.

sheadakota
04-19-2012, 09:58 PM
I didn't want to tie up the 'what you read' thread, so I thought I would start this and see if it flies. I was hoping we could discuss books we have read here. Doesn't have to be M/S/T. I'll start and admitt this book is why I started the thread;
The Catcher in the Rye.
I never read this before and decided I needed to catch up on some of the classics. Now I am having a hard to me trying to understand why this became a classic.
I don't get it, I mean I really don't get it. I really want to know what I missed. I kept reading and reading anxiously waiting for the story to start. My husband asked me, "What's it about?" I had to say, "I don't know."

I still don't know. I came to the end and went, Really? that's it?

Ok- so help me out here people- this is what I got put of this book: Holden is 17, his little brother died and that messed him up, even if Holden can't see it- right so far?
Holded keeps flunking out of every school he is put in because he just can't see the 'goddamn point'. He keeps looking for the point and he keeps trying to find what is wrong in himself by looking at what is wrong in everybody else.
That's it- that's all I got. I thought the last page was a huge rip off- I got sick- DJ came to visit, my parents weren't mad- the end.

Like I said i don't get it and I certainly don't understand how this came to be a classic.

Somebody clue me in--- PLEASE!
Discuss:

heyjude
04-19-2012, 10:06 PM
...

kaitie
04-19-2012, 10:30 PM
Is Catcher in the Rye Salinger? I haven't read that one, but I've read several other Salinger novels (one twice, ugh), and honestly I can say I felt similarly. I really, really dislike the guy's books (at least the ones that I read). I don't know about this one, but they were all horribly depressing and completely hopeless and I not in a way that I felt contributed to the understanding of the human condition.

Anyway, I'm interested. I've always felt that I should go back and read this one, especially because many people talk about what a great book it is, and Holden is one of those classic literary characters. I'll be interested to see what people think and if others feel it's worth reading.

sheadakota
04-19-2012, 10:50 PM
Is Catcher in the Rye Salinger? I haven't read that one, but I've read several other Salinger novels (one twice, ugh), and honestly I can say I felt similarly. I really, really dislike the guy's books (at least the ones that I read). I don't know about this one, but they were all horribly depressing and completely hopeless and I not in a way that I felt contributed to the understanding of the human condition.

Anyway, I'm interested. I've always felt that I should go back and read this one, especially because many people talk about what a great book it is, and Holden is one of those classic literary characters. I'll be interested to see what people think and if others feel it's worth reading.
Yes Kaitie, Catcher in the Rye by Salinger- should have stated that. I'm glad it isn't just me then, I really wanted to like this book, but like I said, I still am wondering what it was about. I'm wondering what others have to say about it as well.

alleycat
04-19-2012, 10:57 PM
Another thing to consider is the time Catcher was written. I think people of a certain generation (or inclination) feel more empathy for Holden in much the same way they felt so much empathy for the characters James Dean played in his movies (I can barely stand the characters he played; I'd like to just slap them). It was a time of high teenage angst that probably didn't have the outlets it did later.

I read Catcher in high school, sort of found it interesting, but didn't quite understand the high standing that it had received. I'm not sure whether Catcher is required reading in HS now as much as it was years ago.

mccardey
04-19-2012, 10:59 PM
I just asked my beloved who was an American teen when he first read it and he says -
It spoke to my youthful, knowing irreverence. But more than that, it was smart and felt directed at people like me and not at our parents. And because it was well-written as well, it made me feel smart.

I read it much later, and I kind of liked the idea that big kids would protect little kids. But I did find Holden Caulfield terribly whiny.

If you want to like Salinger, some of his short stories are much, much better - but they should be read and loved in the first three decades of life.

Or is that just me?

sheadakota
04-19-2012, 11:01 PM
Another thing to consider is the time Catcher was written. I think people of a certain generation (or inclination) feel more empathy for Holden in much the same way they felt so much empathy for the characters James Dean played in his movies. It was a time of high teenage angst that probably didn't have the outlets it did later.
This is true, I did get a kick out of the venacular in the book- gorgeous, lousy,
Did teens really talk like that in the forties?

mccardey
04-19-2012, 11:03 PM
This is true, I did get a kick out of the venacular in the book- gorgeous, lousy,
Did teens really talk like that in the forties?

Weren't they adorable, though?? But terribly whiney...

kaitie
04-19-2012, 11:22 PM
I still find teens terribly whiny...

alleycat
04-19-2012, 11:31 PM
I still find teens terribly whiny...

The average 15-year-old:

Teen 1: "Billy doesn't like you."

Teen 2: "My life is ruined! I might as well die! How can I ever be happy now? I'm going to stay in my room forever!!!!!!!"

Twenty years later:

Person 1: "Billy doesn't like you."

Person 2: "Screw him, I don't care. Let's go get lunch."

kaitie
04-19-2012, 11:42 PM
To my credit, I was a totally whiny and pathetic teenager. ;)

mccardey
04-19-2012, 11:44 PM
To my credit, I was a totally whiny and pathetic teenager. ;)

I was adorable. (as far as I remember...)

Never whined.

alleycat
04-19-2012, 11:50 PM
I was . . .



Never mind.

mccardey
04-20-2012, 12:01 AM
I was . . .



Never mind.


Well. Clearly my memory is not as good as yours... ;)

heyjude
04-20-2012, 12:01 AM
As I discussed with shea, we're porting over to Bookclub, since this isn't specifically MTS-related. Hang on to your hats, all, and no whining!

Nymtoc
04-20-2012, 12:01 AM
Another thing to consider is the time Catcher was written. I think people of a certain generation (or inclination) feel more empathy for Holden in much the same way they felt so much empathy for the characters James Dean played in his movies (I can barely stand the characters he played; I'd like to just slap them). It was a time of high teenage angst that probably didn't have the outlets it did later.

I read Catcher in high school, sort of found it interesting, but didn't quite understand the high standing that it had received. I'm not sure whether Catcher is required reading in HS now as much as it was years ago.

Right on, Alleycat. The time Catcher was written is crucial. It was pre-sixties, pre-Beatles, pre-Woodstock, pre-Vietnam, pre-swear-words-in-public, pre-nudity-in-movies, pre- everything that informs today's popular culture. It hit like a bombshell, or maybe a breath of fresh air. People reading it for the first time today can't be expected to feel what that long-ago generation felt.

mccardey
04-20-2012, 12:04 AM
Right on, Alleycat. The time Catcher was written is crucial. It was pre-sixties, pre-Beatles, pre-Woodstock, pre-Vietnam, pre-swear-words-in-public, pre-nudity-in-movies, pre- everything that informs today's popular culture. It hit like a bombshell, or maybe a breath of fresh air. People reading it for the first time today can't be expected to feel what that long-ago generation felt.

God, I feel old... No - wait - I feel like The Beloved is old.

I just checked, He read it in 1963. *snort* I was barely post-fetal back then...

alleycat
04-20-2012, 12:44 AM
Right on, Alleycat. The time Catcher was written is crucial. It was pre-sixties, pre-Beatles, pre-Woodstock, pre-Vietnam, pre-swear-words-in-public, pre-nudity-in-movies, pre- everything that informs today's popular culture. It hit like a bombshell, or maybe a breath of fresh air. People reading it for the first time today can't be expected to feel what that long-ago generation felt.

Yeah, sometimes you have to put yourself in a different time period to even understand a book or movie. Take Splendor in the Grass, for example; a young woman goes half-way crazy because she's thinking about, about . . . sex!

sheadakota
04-20-2012, 12:45 AM
Well I guess I don't feel so bad then- I was 2 in 1963, BUT... age aside I still have an issue with what the book as about- am I just being dense? Where's the conflict? Between Holden and himself? Holden and the world? And lets 's say I understand what its about- to me he is simply running away, and then he sort of just doesn't.
I was left empty.
Why was his brother a prostitute? Becasue he couldn't make it as a writer? (There's a day job for ya:tongue) That rushed last chapter answered nothing for me and I don't see how it answered anything back when it was first published.
I understand it was new ground back when it first came out, But the repitition of phrases and even themes seemed very amateurish to me in its presentation. I was never sure if Holden was crazy, or simply confused and depressed. He certanly was not likable (IMHO)
What I did like about him was his honest self assesment. he wasn't handsome and he wasn't brave, he lied 'like a madman' and said things just to get attention and admited he didn't know why.

I guess I was expecting too much out of this and was disappointed.

A YA book I absolutely loved from around the same era (ok 20 years or so) was The Lord of the Flies. So I was sorely disappointed by Catcher when comparing the two.

alleycat
04-20-2012, 01:12 AM
I guess I was expecting too much out of this and was disappointed.

That's probably why you're having trouble with the book. You've probably heard about the book for years, heard it was a modern classic, and then, when you read it, it's like "Well, okay".

If you had never heard of the book and read it, you might still not like it, but you probably wouldn't be "scratching your head" over it.

As I mentioned earlier, even as a teen reader years ago it sort of fell flat to me. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't rate it as one of the best books I ever read either. I was of a different generation.

Mclesh
04-20-2012, 01:29 AM
I read Catcher in the Rye for the first time in high school to see what the fuss was about. I've read it at least two more times since. I'm not sure how to explain why I like it. Maybe because it's not so much plot driven, yet as the reader, there's this tension where you're waiting for something to happen. And I have to think that this was part of Salinger's plan. (I could be totally wrong though.) There's the recurring theme of Holden wanting to call the girl from back home -- I can't remember her name -- where he's on the verge several times but never makes the call.

I don't know, it's just one of those things that I'd rather not pick apart but just enjoy the ride. I also really like Woody Allen movies where they're more character driven and not so much plot driven

J.D. Salinger wrote Catcher over a ten-year period of time, I remember being quite surprised when I found that out. Don't know if I'd have the tenacity to keep at one book that long.

DocBrown
04-20-2012, 01:46 AM
I read Catcher last summer for the first time.

Wow! Was I disappointed, but my complaints seemed to be the same about many literary novels that are classics.

The writing is dated and amateurish (and yes, I'm taking into account Holden's immature nature). About the 60th time I read "when all of a sudden..." I wanted to throw something because I read Dick and Jane books in the first grade with better narratives.

My other issue: The author has taken the theme and beaten the reader over the head with it. There's no subtly, no variety to presentation, and somehow depressing has been confused for depth.

HarryHoskins
04-20-2012, 04:08 AM
When you learn it's every man for himself you just gotta think, in whatever prose style is available to you, ain't life grand -- after that, if you got a dream, well ...

blacbird
04-20-2012, 04:24 AM
Another thing to consider is the time Catcher was written. I think people of a certain generation (or inclination) feel more empathy for Holden in much the same way they felt so much empathy for the characters James Dean played in his movies (I can barely stand the characters he played; I'd like to just slap them). It was a time of high teenage angst that probably didn't have the outlets it did later.

I read Catcher in high school, sort of found it interesting, but didn't quite understand the high standing that it had received. I'm not sure whether Catcher is required reading in HS now as much as it was years ago.

This. I don't think Catcher has aged very well. Of course, Salinger didn't, either.

caw

HarryHoskins
04-20-2012, 05:06 AM
http://img250.imagevenue.com/loc508/th_879222644_1_123_508lo.jpg
Models laugh at one of the Beatles (suitably squared by the television) in an advert. The way you perceive this will let you know why you did or did not like Catcher in the Rye. Please take this test every year.

KellyAssauer
04-20-2012, 05:36 AM
I don't get it, I mean I really don't get it. I really want to know what I missed. I kept reading and reading anxiously waiting for the story to start. My husband asked me, "What's it about?" I had to say, "I don't know."

I still don't know. I came to the end and went, Really? that's it?

I did the same thing the first time I read it in high school, several years later I re-read it and marveled at what Salinger had done. It's one person's stuggle with alienation.

Holden is in that place where he isn't sure what he wants to be and everyone is demanding that he be something, except he doesn't see any value in being any of the things those people are! It's quite a dilemma. He's inbetween adult and adolescence and feels ...stuck. He doesn't even really know what it is he should be doing...

So the story is the description of that time period, as if a 'life in the day' except this is two years in the life. That's all the book is, it's a snapshot, a moment stuck forever in time. Very much as Holden is stuck.

Catcher came to market after Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer tried to come to market in the US... and got caught in legal limbo having been banned. Both Salinger and Miller write a story without a 'story' and the main characters were the book. This idea of having a character drive the plot wasn't unknown, but these two brought the format to front of the literary scene.

The odd thing for me, is that I had to experience that kind of alienation... before I truly appreciated the writing. To this day, this is the sort of book I'd rather read *and write* than anything other form because of that ability for the character to drive the plot, to be the book, be the story. It's a piece of individualism about an individual trying to find their way to being an individual.

Kurt Vonnegut had a son. His name is Stephen. Stephen wrote a book called The Eden Express. The book was all about his stay in an asylum. Stephen said that the thing that got him through was his ability to travel hopefully... and not to worry and stress so much about getting to the destination.

In a way... that describes Catcher. It's the journey.

Jehhillenberg
04-20-2012, 07:47 AM
I did the same thing the first time I read it in high school, several years later I re-read it and marveled at what Salinger had done. It's one person's stuggle with alienation.

Holden is in that place where he isn't sure what he wants to be and everyone is demanding that he be something, except he doesn't see any value in being any of the things those people are! It's quite a dilemma. He's inbetween adult and adolescence and feels ...stuck. He doesn't even really know what it is he should be doing...

So the story is the description of that time period, as if a 'life in the day' except this is two years in the life. That's all the book is, it's a snapshot, a moment stuck forever in time. Very much as Holden is stuck.

Catcher came to market after Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer tried to come to market in the US... and got caught in legal limbo having been banned. Both Salinger and Miller write a story without a 'story' and the main characters were the book. This idea of having a character drive the plot wasn't unknown, but these two brought the format to front of the literary scene.

The odd thing for me, is that I had to experience that kind of alienation... before I truly appreciated the writing. To this day, this is the sort of book I'd rather read *and write* than anything other form because of that ability for the character to drive the plot, to be the book, be the story. It's a piece of individualism about an individual trying to find their way to being an individual.

Kurt Vonnegut had a son. His name is Stephen. Stephen wrote a book called The Eden Express. The book was all about his stay in an asylum. Stephen said that the thing that got him through was his ability to travel hopefully... and not to worry and stress so much about getting to the destination.

In a way... that describes Catcher. It's the journey.

I couldn't agree more. I read Catcher to find out the hype. I took it as a character study. I love characters. I wasn't crazy at all about the story, but I did identify with Holden (maybe it's the stage of life). It's mostly internal.

Mr. Anonymous
04-20-2012, 08:43 AM
Kelly, great post.

and to respond to some of the other comments, I just don't understand how people can look at Holden and simply see a "spoiled rich kid."

Yes, Holden is privileged. That doesn't make his struggles, his trials, his coming of age, his disillusionment, his journey to find himself, any less significant than if he weren't privileged.

It reminds me of a lot of the criticism surrounding Into the Wild (first it was a book, then they made a movie out of it.) It's a true story about this "rich kid" who graduates from Emory, and his parents want him to go to law school I believe, but instead he throws it all away and goes off to live in the Alaskan wilderness. Because he's disillusioned with the world he's supposed to now enter, disillusioned with his parents and their expectations of him, and he wants more than anything to find himself.

People criticized the book/movie because they saw a fortunate kid throwing away an opportunity they never had.

But that's looking from the outside, in. That's not seeing the world through the eyes of the character. It's a critique of the character based on a perspective the character doesn't even have access to (not to say we can't critique at all, but we should try to understand first and critique later)! And as is often the case, it is a misleading and hyperbolic critique. There's so much more to Holden Caulfield and the protagonist of Into the Wild than them simply being "spoiled rich kids."

Any character worth reading about, IMO, has goodness in them, and as KTC said five and a half years ago (lol), Holden is just "brimming with goodness."

mccardey
04-20-2012, 12:24 PM
But that's looking from the outside, in. That's not seeing the world through the eyes of the character. It's a critique of the character based on a perspective the character doesn't even have access to (not to say we can't critique at all, but we should try to understand first and critique later)! And as is often the case, it is a misleading and hyperbolic critique. There's so much more to Holden Caulfield and the protagonist of Into the Wild than them simply being "spoiled rich kids."

Any character worth reading about, IMO, has goodness in them, and as KTC said five and a half years ago (lol), Holden is just "brimming with goodness."

Nice post! Plus, of course, the whiny thing was perfectly intentional and a spot-on depiction of the powerlessness that Holden feels - and that the readers at the time responded to.

sheadakota
04-20-2012, 04:36 PM
Kelly- excellent way to look at this book and I can see the appeal it holds for some now. As a character I did like Holden, but I also need a story. You can a great character but without a story it all falls flat for me. I guess it's the thriller writer/reader in me. The books I like have characters you can sink your teeth into, bu they also have very plot driven stories.

Also as Alleycat said a few posts back- I heard about this book all my life and was expecting fantastic things- But I still think if I had never heard about it and picked it up on a whim, I would still have been disappointed.

I wanted something to happen. Nothing ever did. I was left feeling empty and let down.

Do they still have kids read this in school? My kids haven't yet, but they are only 14 & 15.

I went to catholic school and missed all the good stuff :)

This is a great discussion-

KellyAssauer
04-20-2012, 04:40 PM
I went to catholic school and missed all the good stuff :)


Missed the good stuff?
You didn't have any talks with the 'older girls' outside of class? ;)

Mr. Anonymous
04-21-2012, 09:04 AM
Nice post! Plus, of course, the whiny thing was perfectly intentional and a spot-on depiction of the powerlessness that Holden feels - and that the readers at the time responded to.

Agreed. Though I have to admit, it's much easier to find Holden relatable if you were fortunate enough to be as privileged as he is. Also, if you were whiny. :tongue

readitnweep
04-21-2012, 06:48 PM
First read it in high school as well and I found it boring. Read it again in my forties and enjoyed it for the great characterization of a post-war teen. And I liked it because it wasn't resolved. And because he got himself into situations he didn't expect - much as I did as a teen.

I can see why others may not like it, but yes, I did. And yes, it's still required reading in high school - or it is here, as my 16-year-old is required to read it this year.