Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger

Like many other readers, I'm sure, I was saddened to see the news of J.D. Salinger's death. I came to Catcher in the Rye late in life in comparison to most. I think I was maybe 22 or 23 at the time, so I was past the severe angst most experience if they read it closer to their teenage years.

Somehow, I still loved it. While Holden was certainly whiney and stuck up, and a pain in the butt at times, he was also very relatable, and I still found him a sympathetic character. Maybe what really pushed my sympathy over the edge was the title of the book itself and how it played out in the novel.

If you haven't read the novel and want to be surprised by what the title means, STOP READING HERE!

Basically, this is the way it goes...

In Chapter 22, when Phoebe asks Holden what he wants to do with his life, he replies with his image of a “catcher in the rye.” Holden imagines a field of rye perched high on a cliff, full of children romping and playing. He says he would like to protect the children from falling off the edge of the cliff by “catching” them if they were on the verge of tumbling over.

The way this whole scene meshes with the novel is just breathtaking. I remember being so touched by this image that it really "made" the whole book for me.

I haven't read any of Salinger's other work. I started Nine Stories, and I'm certain I'll come back to it, but I might try Franny and Zooey first.

Anyone else have fond memories of Salinger's work?

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