Catcher in the Rye: J.D Salinger

Sorry for the little break book hunters, I’ve been off on a Christmassy jolly to Lithuania. Details on my resulting journey to Foyles in London will be included later!


I have been meaning to read Catcher in the Rye for several years now. A friend recommended it, having studied the text at school. I just never get around to buying it, until now. It made a good flight companion on my return several days ago. J.D Salinger comes across as an interesting guy upon further reading, having spent half a century in complete privacy after publishing his last work in 1965. Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 and remains a controversial book, due to its in many ways accurate depiction of the end of youth and loss of innocence.

The book is written from the perspective of Holden Caulfield and catalogues the couple of days between his expulsion from Pencey Prep and his return home to Manhattan and his family. The narrator (Holden) claims to document his interactions and stirrings throughout this period, but his attitude towards his emotions can be called into question, as his storytelling becomes contradictory and fantastic at moments. From the beginning the reader knows that Holden is ‘recovering’ and writing from some future point, but the nature of his downfall is undefined.

Holden Caulfield took me on a journey – his plight reminded me of an isolation that I felt in my teens and to an extent I felt I could understand his position. He appears to be a pathetic and boastful character when first met, but through his emotions towards others and their ebbing his loss becomes palpable. Salinger refers to similar themes that Sylvia Plath would later write about in The Bell Jar, yet somehow I found his work to be more readable and enveloping – perhaps because he was able to grip me sooner than Plath. Although this book was written originally to appeal to adults I would recommend it to all adolescents, as if anything it proves that no one is alone in their alienation.


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