Tuesday, 24 February, 2004

A Catcher in the Rye

Somehow I managed to make it through high school and halfway through college without reading A Catcher In the Rye.  I found it on the bookshelf here at home last week, tucked away in a corner that's hard to reach.  Having heard the book discussed as "a classic," I figured I might as well read it.  There's just no way to put this delicately.  The book is trash.  Garbage.  Pointless.  A complete waste of time.  It reads like half the blogs you'll see if you go cruising over on Blogger, except J.D. Salinger understood grammar and punctuation rules.

The book is interesting from an historical perspective.  I didn't realize that the term "cool" was popular in the late 1940's.  There's some discussion of "miles per gallon," which I thought wasn't much concern until the 70's oil embargo.  Comments in the book lead me to the conclusion that even people in the late 1940's knew that smoking cigarettes was bad for your health.  Apparently the word "flit" described a homosexual man, and the word "Lesbian" was capitalized.  And, not terribly surprising, teenage boys liked to smoke, cursed a lot, and were obsessed with sex. 

Historical curiosity aside, I can find nothing in the book to recommend it as a piece of literature.  It certainly doesn't live up to the flyleaf endorsement:

"Mr. Salinger's novel," said Lews Vogler in the San Francisco Chronicle, "is funny, poignant, and in its implications, profound.  It is literature of a very high order."

I'm reminded again of THE ROYAL NONESUCH (see January 27, 2003).