The Catcher in the Rye: I caught a body

two words: original emo

1st edition cover, 1951

I tend to like suicidal gits who just so happen to be the smartest (and the dumbest) fucker in the room. In fact, that is the story of my life.

The Catcher in the Rye is about a rich kid – articulate, athletic, but a bit weird – whose bad day just got dipped in shit because he’s been expelled yet again from yet another prep school. Instead of returning home, he goes on a bender in his native New York City. But he’s not your predictable American-psycho entitled meathead. He’s as sad as they come. And he’s trying to tell you why, in his own voice. Seriously, it’s a first-person narrative.

Here’s what he says in a nutshell,

“I’m sensitive prick with a stupid hat and a death wish. Adults are frauds and social norms are bullshit. But if you were the underdog in any fight I’d have your back, like a catcher in the rye.”

Naturally, it caused a ruckus when it came out. A promising kid rebels to a point of self-annihilation for no apparent reason; there’s smoking, drinking, bad language, death, violence and sex, and he’s pants-down vulnerable. And what’s with J.D. Salinger’s unusual narration? Catcher’s power resides exactly in the reader’s response to these exquisite ‘problems’. Why is Holden so self-destructively disillusioned? And how did J.D. write such an original, sublimely informal and utterly convincing young voice?

It killed me. p5

Many have tried unsuccessfully to adapt the book to film, which makes me clap-hands-quietly pleased. This is one depressing slice of perfection I do not want to see happied-up or angsted-out. It’d be like adapting On The Road for screen… Wait, they did what?… NOOOOO!!!

Anyways, I adore The Catcher in the Rye. I’ve been re-reading it every chance I get for more than a decade. It gets better every time. Oddly enough, my live-in lover @galactusrages couldn’t get past the first page. He hates it in the same way I hate the sound of my own voice played back to me.  OH, HAIL NAW, there’s no goddam way I sound like that!

My lover isn’t the first or last to hate the guy; Holden Caulfield is a douche. He may be an angry, reckless, whiny bastard… wait, which emo am I talking about again? Either way, I’m in love.

o.g. original gangster-ice t

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