Daily Archives: October 20, 2003

The Catcher in the Rye Part 1 Again

I never really said anything when I wrote my first two so-called reviews, so this time I’ll put a little more thought into it.

I don’t consider the book anything special. J.D. Salinger was not the first to write using the stream of consciousness-style narrative. He did not create the style. This means you can’t quite completely praise it for the original writing style. The book contains slang that a kid would use. So what? Is that supposed to be original and ground-breaking? Writing down what kids always use? Slang is a type of dialect for younger humans. Mark Twain was writing in different dialects long before Salinger.

In my opinion, I found the character to be whiny, not insightful. Just because he’s constantly depressed and a cynic doesn’t mean he represents a side of all of us. If there was a character who was completely happy, does that mean that he represents the happy side in all of us? Personally, I can’t relate to the character. Look at the origin of the title. He wants to preserve the innocence of children. I don’t like children. I don’t value innocence because it relates too much to ignorance.

Holden is not merely depressed because of the way the world is. He is depressed because his brother died. He praised Allie so much in the book. He wonders why Allie had to die, when Allie was so much better than himself. Again, I can’t quite relate to this.

I didn’t like the plot of the story, or lack thereof. I didn’t feel as if they were important. You can take out certain individual events and they have no effect whatsoever as to the progress of the story. I like action, rather than unimportant thought processes. That’s my opinion. I’ve expressed this opinion before when I said I don’t like writing about what I do in the day because I find it boring. I didn’t do anything exciting. Now, I know Holden gets beat up by a prostitute’s boss, but I still didn’t find it too exciting. The lack of purpose in the plot is exacerbated by a weak ending that doesn’t truly resolve, or give meaning to, the book.

Reiterating the valuing of actions over words, I’ll say that, as my personal preference, I did not like the book’s narrative style. Perhaps it’s a result of the years of drilling “show-not-tell” into my head from school. Perhaps it’s a result of the American shoot-em-up, bang-bang action culture.

Then again, you can still have action and delve deep into emotions. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (a book I enjoyed), deals with morality, yet has more “adventure” than The Catcher in the Rye. The Catcher in the Rye isn’t the final word on adolescence and cynicism.

Since I’m rather a cynic myself, maybe that’s why I didn’t find the book as funny as some people. Some observations are like my own. They aren’t anything new. Still, I find that the character meanders in his articulated thoughts, never making a point, which is different from my thinking style. I like to think in terms of cause and effect. So, there’s another point in which I can’t relate to the main character.

Just because a book decides to touch on those issues and has a touch of cynicism doesn’t make it an instant classic. I went too far in saying that I could write something similar, but compared to the plethora of books I have read, it didn’t rank well.

Maybe I’ll write a part 2, not sure.