Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 7: BWC - The Catcher in the Rye

I am not someone who reads books multiple times. I would always prefer to read another book, because there are just so many out there that I want to read. That said, I have read *The Catcher in the Rye* at least four times. Catcher was the first book I ever read in which I strongly identified with the main character. I think it was the first book that made me really love to read. While reading a great article about J.D. Salinger in the New York Times yesterday, I remembered how much I really loved that book and how I felt like I almost lived in it for a little while. The article made me want to read all of his books again and made me hope that somehow someday more of his writing will be published, even though that seems very unlikely.

*The Catcher in the Rye* was assigned as part of an elective literature class I took my senior year of high school. The year before I had had so much reading to do for school in history and literature classes particularly, I pretty much hated reading. So, it was such a relief, as an angsty teenager, to read:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages a piece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

I remember when I got to college, I made a good friend because of our mutual love for Catcher. We were both thoughtful, idealistic, somewhat depressed, overly sensitive young people who loved poetry, had pride in our talent, but also had much uncertainty about how to go forward in the world. I think we both related strongly to Holden because he was also depressed, sensitive, and felt alienated by the world, like no one really understood him.

Many years after college, I remember reading Catcher again, for the fourth time, I guess, and discovering that I didn't relate to Holden in the same way at all that I did when I was younger. It was a little disappointing not being able to enjoy it like I had before, but I knew that I had changed and that it wasn't a bad thing. Still, I value the book so much for what it gave me during a time when I needed someone and something to identify with. Thanks, J.D.

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