Oct 7, 2012

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Release Date: The edition I have was published in May 1991
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 214 (mass market paperback)
Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists.
It begins, "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."
His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.
I didn't buy this book during the recent Manila International Book Fair for the same reason, but I ended up reading it for Banned Books Week! And it was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made, because The Catcher in the Rye is a classic without needing a complicated language or a complex plot.

The story was quite simple, really. It started with Holden Caulfield, the charming main character, about to get kicked out of school for the nth time. He left days before he's supposed to, then went to New York and smoked, drank, and "horsed" around, calling up and visiting some of his past acquaintances. The story's just all that, really.

Only, it's not. Holden did all that while reflecting on everything he saw, and for me, those were the best parts of this book. I haven't seen what he's seen or experienced what he's experienced, but I can still relate to him and his thoughts.

Holden got depressed quite easily, but he's really entertaining. He's crazy, to put it simply. At times, he clutched his stomach, pretending that he's shot. And he's quite the smooth liar. A very funny person, he was. I also loved how he just did what he wanted to; I wish I could be as brave as him.

Overall, The Catcher in the Rye was very good, and totally unworthy of being a challenged book. It reminded me of John Green's novels, which I also enjoyed (though, unfortunately, I have not yet read them all). I'm looking forward to reading Salinger's other book, Franny and Zooey.

MY FAVORITE PART was his encounter with who was possibly the true Mr. Antolini. That was hilariously shocking.

(photo and summary from Goodreads.com) 

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