Thursday, October 8, 2009

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BASEBALL!


I remember picking "The Catcher In The Rye" off a list when I was a freshmen in high school because I thought it had to do with baseball and I had heard it had something really filthy in it!  OOOOH, I thought, I wonder what it is?  All a teenage kid needs to hear are the words "banned" "swearing" and "sexual content" and we're all over it!  There wasn't too much exposure to this sort of thing  when I was growing up.  I came from a small town in Maine where our TV had rabbit ears and we could only pick up ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS!  That was it!  Staying up to watch the "Gong Show" was a big deal.  Then one dark and seedy night, when I was around twelve, I stayed at my friend's house in town who had just hooked up cable.  What a novelty, the Darwin de-evolution of the human mind had begun! I turned on HBO and the movie "Dressed To Kill" with Angie Dickinson was on.  What a shower scene and she was totally "NAKED" and then some dude got in the shower with her, OMG!!


Now, today it seems foolish that anyone would get their under garments in a twist over this book.  And, what is even more foolish is that movies that were rated R like Rambo seem tame next to P13 movies today.  In that light, reading "The Catcher In The Rye" doesn't seem that big of a deal.  The swearing becomes gratuitous and annoying.  I thought I had missed all the "F" words when they all showed up in the last few chapters. How exciting! So Holden Caulfied is  this rich, confused kid that keeps failing out of prep schools. He swears, drinks, chain smokes, is obsessed with sex (imagine it, a teenage boy obsessed with sex), has the dough to take off from school, gets a hotel room, hires a hooker (then gets stage fright), is super negative, hates everyone, is impulsive, has ADD, is deluded, depressed and feels lonely.  Ummmm, sounds like many teenagers I've come across. Except he doesn't,  like other socially elite kids today, have a sex video on UTUBE or his own reality TV Show.

Holden Caulfield is more intelligent than most kids his age and is overly obsessed with people being "phony", which is a Salinger personality trait. In comparison, I remember sitting in my room as a teenager, listening to soulful music, ruminating about everything that sucked (especially my parents) and how was I going to keep myself from becoming one of "them" or their lame-o friends.  I used to write for hours about dreamy fantasy's with boys were I gave them "love potion number 9" so they would only have eyes for me, or how I would become super successful and show all those snobby losers how wrong they had been about me, or maybe I'd just be a fashion model with a PHD!  Oh, the choices were endless!   And, then reality......


"The Catcher In The Rye", will take you back to that time in your life and for that it is a great book.  How often do we get to go back and visit our angst filled adolescence.  But there is something odd, the fact that Salinger as an adult could so easily slip into this personality and embody so fully the language and thought process of Holden Caulfield, makes me believe he is emotionally immature.  And, if you visit his bio. this is very much evident.  I don't really care for Salinger.  His history seems to show him as a very narcissistic, inappropriate and controlling person.  For me, this book really isn't top 100 material, but because it personifies the rebelliousness of a certain generation it is # 64 on the list.  In my opinion, Salinger is no Fitzgerald or Steinbeck and isn't entitled to this attitude of snobbery in regards to his talent. I don't think Salinger published anything else noteworthy because he knew he couldn't write anything better then "Catcher" and he is not someone who can handle the embarrassment of failure or the criticism.  It is safer to remain a recluse and laze on you laurels.  Salinger is 90 years old now and is looking down from Mount Krumpit hating the Who's.  I can see him telling a young woman at the local store, "hey, maybe you've heard of me, I'm kinda a big deal.  I wrote a lil' book called "The Catcher In The Rye".  To which she responds, "Like, what are you talking about dude?" 



Coming Through the Rye by Robert Burns
(1759-1796)


Coming thro' the rye, poor body,
Coming thro' the rye,
She draiglet a' her petticoatie                                   
Coming thro' the rye.

O, Jenny's a' wat, poor body;
Jenny's seldom dry;
She draiglet a' her petticoatie
Coming thro' the rye.

Gin a body meet a body
Coming thro' the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body -
Need a body cry?

Gin a body meet a body
Coming thro' the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body -
Need the warld ken?

3 comments:

StephanieD said...

I love the blog post title!

I recently read an article about one-hit wonders and this book was in it.

I've heard this novel compared repeatedly to The Bell Jar. Is that accurate, you think?

Cara Powers said...

One interpretation of this book that may be missed is that it is about grief. Did you mention that in your previous post? I can't remember. Anyway, part of why Holden is the way he is is that he recently lost his brother. His parents just shipped him off to boarding school where he's expected to go on like nothing's happened. I never liked A Catcher in the Rye, but this interpretation makes me appreciate it more.

kamagra said...

The catcher in the rye beautifully answers the question of what would happen if we decided to flunk out of our classes and try to make it on our own.