Well, this was a pain to get through.First of all, this is a shitty way to start a novel no matter how you want to introduce your main character 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 That is easily one of the saddest, most pathetic introductions to a book As I started this book, I wondered if the introduction is like this, how will the rest of the book be This is what the rest of the book looked like He was also the nicest, in lots of ways He never got mad at anybody People with red hair are supposed to get mad very easily, but Allie never did, and he had very red hair I ll tell you what kind of red hair he had I sort of used to go to Allie s baseball matches It was around ten thirty, I guess, when I finished it I can imagine Holden as this very insipid, boring little kid with no life in him whatsoever Also, Holden thinks everyone besides him is a phony and a moron And he makes it very clear because he mentions it, like, every two pages Literally every damn time I read some of the comments regarding how I didn t understand this book because I didn t relate to it That may be true Very, very true Regardless, I still think to this day that this book is a drag and has an unlikable main character and a dry, boring writing style Perhaps I will read it again when I am older and maybe I ll enjoy it. If I could give this book a zero, I would I absolutely hated it Generally, I don t hate books, either Usually it s a very strong dislike, and generally, I give them a second chance But no, I will never be reading this book again.In my opinion, Holden is the worst character in the English language Salinger tried just too damn hard to make him universal , to the point where he becomes unrealistic His train of thought is annoying and repetitive, and God, those catchphrases of his Can someone shut this kid up Holden is almost the anti Gary Stu Nearly every thing s wrong with him The one good thing about him being his love for his younger sister The plot is one of the worst I ve ever read It s boring, and it, like Holden, is unbelievably and painfully repetitive Holden calls up an old friend, has a drink Holden calls up a girl, has a drink Holden dances with a girl Then he drinks Was there a climax to this book I must have missed it Maybe it was Holden nearly freezing to death um, what in Central Park No, no, maybe it was when Holden called up that hooker Maybe not The plot is so fuzzy and flat I couldn t tell when to peak my interest.And that s just it, it never did.So buh bye, Holden Your book s been gathering dust on my shelf for the past two years and it ll stay that way Until I decide to sell it, of course. The hero narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it There are many voices in this novel children s voices, adult voices, underground voices but Holden s voice is the most eloquent of all Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep J.D Salinger s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951 The novel was included on Time s 2005 list of the 100 best English language novels written since 1923 It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English language novels of the 20th century It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950 s and 60 s it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read. My theory as to this book s unusually polarizing nature either you identify with Holden Caulfield or you don t.Those who see themselves either as they were or, God help them, as they are in Holden see a misunderstood warrior poet, fighting the good fight against a hypocritical and unfeeling world they see in Salinger a genius because he gets it, and he gets them.Those of us who don t relate to Holden see in him a self absorbed whiner, and in Salinger, a one trick pony who lucked into performing his trick at a time when some large fraction of America happened to be in the right collective frame of mind to perceive this boring twaddle as subversive and meaningful. 5.0 stars I LOVE IT when I go into a book with low expectations and it ends up knocking me on my ass Admittedly, this is tougher to do with classics but it certainly happened in this case I remember first reading this in school like many of us and not thinking it was anything special However, having first read it almost 25 years ago, I knew I had to read it again before I could feel justified in actually reviewing it Of course, I didn t hold out much hope that my feelings would change and was expecting a fairly painful reading experiece In fact, as I started reading, I was already thinking about what my amazingly insightful, completely isn t it cool to bash on the classics 1 star review was going to focus on I thought maybe I could bag on the less than spectacular prose used by Salinger making myself feel really smart in the process Or maybe I could take some jabs at the less than exciting narrative pacing and throw in a few references to watching paint dry In the end, I thought my most likely avenue for attacking reviewing this anthem of teen angst was that it was utterly yawn inspiringno longer relevant today because of the GLUT of teen angst that the recent generations have been exposed to ad nauseam growing up I mean we live in a time in which teen angst is EVERYWHERE and even has its own sub genre label now You can find it in MUSIC MOVIES AND EVEN THE SHITTY POPULAR LITERATURE OF OUR TIMES Literature is a serious stretch, but I must admit that these books do IN FACT fill me with ANGST So what happened to all of the preconceived notions I had before I starting reading this book Instead, I found myself completely drawn into the rich, nuanced story of Holden Caulfield I found myself empathizing with Caulfield almost from the beginning something I did not expect to do His annoying , pseudo rebellious and just don t care exterior were so obviously manufactured and so patently hiding a seriously sad and lost boy that I was transfixed on finding the real Holden Caulfield Despite the book being written in Holden s own words the reader was still able to discern that Holden s surface response to a situation was hiding a much deeper, emotional resposne For Salinger to be able to infuse that kind of nuance into the sparse prose of Caulfield s narrative was nothing short of brilliant in my opinion Caulfied is lazy He is stubborn He is immature He is unfocused He is untruthful He is dangerously short sighted and he is lost in his own world or unrealistic expectations Sounds like that could certainly be a not unsubstantial portion of the male 16 year old population However, after reading this book, I learned a few other things about Holden that I though were fascinating and that are not as often discussed 1 He is desperately lonely he even goes so far as ask his cab drivers to join him for a drink 2 He is generous with his time and his things he writes an essay for his roommate despite being upset with him and even lets him borrow his jacket 3 He is extremely sensitive and longs for an emotional rather than just a physical commitment he mentions several times his need to be in love in order to be physical and his experience with the prostitute certainly bears this out 4 He is intelligent despite being lazy and unfocused, Holden displays great insight and intelligence regarding books he has read and displays at the museum and 5 Despite being unable to process it correctly, he is full of compassion and has a deep capacity for love, which he shows most notably for his sister this was one of the most powerful parts of the story for me as it was Holden s desire to avoid hurting Phoebe that keeps him from running away at the end of the book Taking all of the good and the bad together, I was left with the feeling that Holden is an adolescent on the cusp of adulthood who is achingly afraid of the loss of his childhood and the responsibility and commitment that he sees as required to make it in the adult world He is compassionate, intelligent and deeply emotional and yet is unable or unwilling to focus that energy on those steps that he sees as leading him away from his happy memories of childhood and closer to the scary world of the adult I think this is superbly shown in Holden s expressed dream of wanting to being the Catcher in the Rye Quick side note I had no idea what the title to the book referred to until I just read the book Here is a person so afraid of growing up and so averse to giving into the pain and sadness that he sees as the result of becoming an adult that he wants nothing than to spend his life protecting others from losing the innocence of childhood Big, crazy, I want to save the world dreams are a wonderful part of childhood and it is a shame that such ideas and beliefs are too often destroyed under the barrage of you really need to grow up rather than having such dreams transitioned and re focused into daring the improbable within the world of the possible A great and moving reading experience and one that I give my HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION I read the end of The Catcher in the Rye the other day and found myself wanting to take Holden Caulfield by the collar and shake him really, really hard and shout at him to grow up I suppose I ve understood for some time now that The Catcher in the Rye a favorite of mine when I was sixteen was a favorite precisely because I was sixteen At sixteen, I found Holden Caulfield s crisis profoundly moving I admired his searing indictment of society, his acute understanding of human nature, his extraordinary sensitivity I mean, come on, he had a nervous breakdown for God s sake, he had to be sensitive At sixteen, I wanted to marry Holden Caulfield At forty, I want to spank him After all, Holden s indictment of society boils down to the insight that everybody is a phony That s the kind of insight a sixteen year old considers deep A forty year old of the grown up variety recognizes Holden s insight as superficial and banal, indulging in the cheapest kind of adolescent posturing It suggests a grasp of society and of human nature that s about as complex as an episode of Dawson s Creek Holden and his adolescent peers typically behave as though the fate they have suffered disillusionment and the end of innocence is unique in human history He can t see beyond the spectacle of his own disillusionment and neither can J D Salinger for all his painful self consciousness, Holden Caulfield is not really self aware He can t see that he himself is a phony Compare Salinger s novel of arrested development, for instance, with a real bildungsroman, Great Expectations Holden Caulfield is an adolescent reflecting on childhood and adolescence Pip Pirrip is an adult reflecting on childhood and adolescence Holden Caulfield has the tunnel vision of teendom, and he depicts events with an immediacy and absorption in the experience that blocks out the broader context, the larger view Pip Pirrip has the wonderful double vision of a sensitive adult recollecting the sensitive child he used to be he conveys at the same time the child s compelling perspective and the adult s thoughtful revision of events While Holden Caulfield litters his narrative with indignant exposes of phonies and frauds, Pip Pirrip skillfully concentrates on the spurious coin of his own make that is, without letting the child Pip and the adolescent Pip in on the joke, he exposes himself as a phony Pip Pirrip grows up Holden Caulfield has a nervous breakdown I suppose the only reason I begrudge him his breakdown is that so many in our culture many , unfortunately, than just the legitimate adolescents among us seem fixated on Holden as a symbol of honesty and socially liberating rebellion We view nervous collapse and dysfunction as a badge of honor, a sign to put it in Caulfieldian terms that we are discerning enough to see through all the crap Our celebration of overwrought disaffection reminds me of the last sentence of Joyce s Araby Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity and my eyes burned with anguish and anger Here is the adolescent pose non pareil Equally self accusing and self aggrandizing, it captures the adolescent at the precise moment when his own disillusionment becomes the object of his grandiose and self dramatizing vision That s the kind of crap that Holden Caulfield and J D Salinger cannot see through And it is often the kind of crap that we adults like to slosh around in The Barney beating of several years ago is another symptom of our arrested adolescence, our inability to ride the wave of disillusion into the relatively calm harbor of adulthood as though flailing around in the storm and raging at the wind were in themselves marks of distinction and a superior sensibility I remember a news story about a woman in a Barney costume being seriously injured when a rabid and probably drunken anti Barney fanatic attacked the big purple dinosaur at some public event Now, I don t know the age of the Barney beater, but the act itself is a supremely adolescent one, in which the impulsive response to disillusionment is to lash out at those symbols of childhood which made the biggest dupes of us At the dawn of adolescence, when Barney begins to appear cloying and false, it seems natural to want to beat up on him, as though it was Barney himself who pulled one over on us instead of our own poignant and necessary misapprehension of the nature of things I could see Holden Caulfield beating up on Barney at least rhetorically , and I could see Holden Caulfield missing Barney as he misses all the phonies at the end of the book , but I cannot see Holden Caulfield accepting the postlapsarian Barney on new terms, as a figure who is meant for children and not for him For all his touching poses about wanting to be the catcher in the rye, what Holden really wants is not to save children but to be a child again. In my hand I hold 5 I will give it to anyone who can explain the plot of this book or why there is no plot and make me understand why the hell people think it s so amazing. Sometimes truth isn t just stranger than fiction, it s also interesting and better plotted Salinger helped to pioneer a genre where fiction was deliberately less remarkable than reality His protagonist says little, does little, and thinks little, and yet Salinger doesn t string Holden up as a satire of deluded self obsessives, he is rather the epic archetype of the boring, yet self important depressive.I ve taken the subway and had prolonged conversations on the street with prostitutes not concerning business matters , and I can attest that Salinger s depiction is often accurate to what it feels like to go through an average, unremarkable day However, reading about an average day is no interesting than living one.Beyond that, Salinger doesn t have the imagination to paint people as strangely as they really are Chekhov s normal little people seem real and alive than Salinger s because Chekhov injects a little oddness, a little madness into each one Real people are almost never quite as boring as modernist depictions, because everyone has at least some ability to surprise you.Salinger s world is desaturated Emotions and moments seep into one another, indistinct as the memories of a drunken party Little importance is granted to events or thoughts, but simply pass by, each duly tallied by an author in the role of court reporter.What is interesting about this book is not that it is realistically bland, but that it is artificially bland Yet, as ridiculous a concept as that is, it still takes itself entirely in earnest, never acknowledging the humor of its own blase hyperbole.This allows the book to draw legions of fans from all of the ridiculously dull people who take themselves as seriously as Holden takes himself They read it not as a parody of bland egotism but a celebration, poised to inspire all the bland egotists who have resulted from the New Egalitarianism in Art, Poetry, Music, and Academia.Those same folks who treat rationality and intellectual fervor like a fashion to be followed, imagining that the only thing required to be brilliant is to mimic the appearance and mannerisms of the brilliant as if black berets were the cause of poetic inspiration and not merely a symptom.One benefit of this is that one can generally sniff out pompous faux intellectuals by the sign that they hold up Holden as a sort of messianic figure Anyone who marks out Holden as a role model is either a deluded teen with an inflated sense of entitlement, or is trying to relive the days when they were.But what is interesting is that those who idolize Holden tend to be those who most misunderstand him Upon close inspection, he s not depressive, not consumed with ennui or an existential crisis, he s actually suffering from Shell Shock now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.The way he thinks about his brother s and classmate s deaths going over the details again and again in his mind, but with no emotional connection it s not symptomatic of depression, but of psychological trauma He is stuck in a cycle, unable to process events, going over them again and again, but never able to return to normalcy.It takes a certain kind of self centered prick to look at someone s inability to cope with the reality of death and think Hey, that s just like my mild depression over how my parents won t buy me a newer ipod It s not an unusual stance in American literature there s an arrogant detachment in American thought which has become less and less pertinent as the world grows and changes As recently as The Road we have American authors comparing a difficult father son relationship to the pain and turmoil of an African civil war survivor and winning awards for displaying their insensitive arrogance.Perhaps it s time we woke up and realized that the well fed despondence of the white man should not be equated with a lifetime of death, starvation, war, and traumas both physical and emotional And as for Salinger a real sufferer of Post Traumatic Stress who was one of the first soldiers to see a concentration camp, who described how you can never forget the smell of burning flesh I can only imagine how he felt when people read his story of a man, crippled by the thought of death, and thought to themselves Yes, that s just what it s like to be a trustafarian with uncool parents No wonder he became a recluse and stopped publishing. I was worried as hell about reading this book again The last time I read it was about a thousand years ago when I was just a kid I was lousy with angst just like good old Holden back then I really was Now that I m a crummy old guy I figured that I wouldn t like it any That s the one thing about crummy old guys, they always hate books that kids like Every time I reread a corny book that I really liked when I was a kid it makes me want to give the writer a buzz and ask what the hell is going on It s like they are trying to give you the time in the back of a cab when you don t feel like getting the time at all It s damn depressing, I swear to God it is If you want to know the truth, you probably couldn t even talk to a phony writer on the phone You would just end up talking to his butler or some snobbish person like that and asking if they would give the writer your message He probably wouldn t even do it The thing with guys like that is that they will never give writers your messages That s something that annoys the hell out of me Turns out this is still a damn good book Salinger kid is a great writer He really is Maybe I m still just an angst ridden sonuvabitch, but this part kills me 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 p.211I ll bet everyone is going to think that I m just horsin around or trying to be all sexy talking like this The reason for this corny review is because a thousand other people have already written reviews for this book and I ll bet that they have already said everything that I want to say It s pretty depressing It really is That s about all that I m going to talk about Now I just hope that no one writes fuck you on this review That s the thing with some people, they are always sneaking up and writing fuck you on your book reviews when you are not looking They really are. I read this book for the first time in the 8th grade I had to get my mom to sign a permission slip because of the cursing Before I began reading, I had so many expectations Back then, I read Seventeen Magazine, and back then, Seventeen Magazine ran brainy features about books and poetry There was one feature where they asked people what book changed their lives, and something like than half said Catcher in the Rye I think there might have been some celebrity comments in there, too At any rate, it was a ringing endorsement.So you can imagine my disappointment when I hated it Not only did I hate Holden, but I hated everything about the novel There was nothing I enjoyed I did my book report where I confessed my hatred which led my teacher to confess that she did, too , but I couldn t let it go I honestly felt that my loathing of a novel that so many others found life changing indicated some deep and horrible flaw I felt like hating Catcher in the Rye was my dirty little secret.Time passed, and my self loathing mellowed I began to think that perhaps I d come at it too young, so after my first year of college, I decided to re read it, go at it with fresh eyes, and see if my opinion had changed.Here s the thing it hasn t I get it I get that Holden is supposed to be loathsome I get that he is the hypocrite he hates I get that almost all teenagers go through the kind of thinking he experiences I get it I do I just don t like it.Oh, and I m not ashamed any.