Sunday, October 16, 2011
#2 - The Catcher in the rye.
I just finished reading 'The Catcher in the Rye' by J.D Salinger. You've probably read it, but if you haven't it's an introspective, stream-of-consciousness style book about the main character Holden's perspective on the world. It's an angsty piece of writing with a sort of observational dark wit. Holden isn't exactly a likable character (not for me anyway), but he's understandable; he's relate-able. The tone of the whole book is almost too personal; it feels like someone has gone into your brain and extracted all your most cynical thoughts and put them on paper. Holden's outlook on life reminds me of the sort of thinking that I have at the end of one of those days were everything has turned to shit and there is nothing left to do to make yourself feel better but to pretend that the problem lies in everyone else.
I finished the book and was both glad I read it and glad it was over. Because the plot line was so subtle (much more a story of mental development more than actual events) the appeal of the book rests upon whether or not you like (or can relate to) the main character Holden. For me, Holden represents that part of me that I have but wish I didn't; I imagine this is how lots of people feel after reading The Catcher in the Rye. Holden is the part of you that feels isolated because you can never truly understand how anyone else feels and neither can they truly understand you. He's the part of you that observes people exchanging culturally ingrained but repulsively fake pleasantries and wants to smite the world for the being so fickle.
Nevertheless it's not all existentialism and social criticism; amongst the angst there is plenty of observational humour, some nice emotional character development between Holden and his sister Phoebe and countless exposés of the 'phony-ness' of society. It's also interesting to read because of the language differences - the word 'damn' is used often and (i think) meant to be pretty offensive. That being said it's a super easy read and still feels pretty relevant to today. Oh yeah, thanks Lottie for suggesting this one to me. :)