Saturday 9 July 2011

The Catcher in the Rye

I'm currently reading The Catcher in the Rye. I've never read it before, but it always appears on 100 Greatest Novels and other lists of that ilk; so when I saw it on the library shelves this week, I thought I'd give it a go.

As a novel, it's okay. Yeah, I'd go a far as saying it's all right. Granted, I'm probably not the target audience JD Salinger had in mind when he was writing it: I'm female, I'm a lot older than the protagonist, and I'm sure that being a teenager in the 40s was a lot different to being a teenager in the 80s/90s, when I was doing it.

But, probably because of the things I've just mentioned, I wonder how it's become a classic. I'm on page 75 out of 192, so perhaps something exciting happens in a minute, but so far it's been a pretty staid, safe analysis of two very carefully observed days.

I know the word classic is subjective. For me, classic novels are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid's Tale, maybe something by Dickens. A classic novel, for me, should show me a situation from another perspective, leaving me thinking about the subject... and possibly even teach me a something. It should be a book I could read over and over again, and still find something new within the pages.

Maybe because The Catcher in the Rye has been in my consciousness for so long, I've built it up to be something it could not possibly be. I didn't know what the story was before I started reading - maybe I was expecting to be blown away, and I wasn't.

Now, I'm left wondering whether fiction can fulfil that desire or whether, because of the age we live in, only films with their 3D effects can provide that. I hope not. There are still books that leave me spellbound - maybe these are the classics of the future.


  1. I disliked Catcher in the Rye intensely when I had to read it at university. By the time I finished it, I was heartily sick of the word "phoney." But I do wonder if I was a bit too old when I read it - maybe if I first read it as a teenager, I might have felt differently about it (although I doubt it).
    On the same course, I read and loved Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (which I now feel I should re-read).

  2. I read The Catcher in the Rye in my early twenties, and I remember being really disappointed.

    I do think though, that as long as there are writers there will be books such as those you have described. We just have to find them :)

  3. Ah, I feel better now. I thought, for a moment, I was the only one not getting it!

  4. I'm not a huge classics lover in general, a lot of the books I just can't get into and I hated having to read them in classes.

    Books still do deliver, but you have to search for the right ones. Media hype can make them hard to find and build things up (3D is not my favorite way to watch movies), but their definitely out there.


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