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


Though still a work in progress, here are the novels that I’ll be reading in 2011.

Struck through titles have been completed.
Bold titles are presently being read.
* indicates reread.

  1. 1984-1948-George Orwell
  2. The Adventures of Augie March-1953-Saul Bellow
  3. All The King’s Men-1946-Robert Penn Warren
  4. American Pastoral-1997-Philip Roth
  5. An American Tragedy-1925-Theodore Dreiser
  6. Animal Farm-1946-George Orwell*
  7. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret-1970-Judy Blume
  8. At Swim-Two-Birds-1938-Flann O’Brien
  9. Atonement-2002-Ian McEwan
  10. Beloved-1987-Toni Morrison*
  11. The Big Sleep-1939-Raymond Chandler
  12. The Blind Assassin-2000-Margaret Atwood
  13. Blood Meridian-1986-Cormac McCarthy
  14. Catch-22-1961-Joseph Heller
  15. The Catcher in the Rye-1951-J.D. Salinger*
  16. A Clockwork Orange-1963-Anthony Burgess
  17. The Corrections-2001-Jonathan Franzen
  18. The Death of the Heart-1958-Elizabeth Bowen
  19. The French Lieutenant’s Woman-1969-John Fowles
  20. Go Tell it on the Mountain-1953-James Baldwin
  21. The Grapes of Wrath-1939-John Steinbeck
  22. The Great Gatsby-1925-F. Scott Fitzgerald
  23. A Handful of Dust-1934-Evelyn Waugh
  24. The Heart is A Lonely Hunter-1940-Carson McCullers
  25. The Heart of the Matter-1948-Graham Greene
  26. Herzog-1964-Saul Bellow
  27. Housekeeping-1981-Marilynne Robinson
  28. I, Claudius-1934-Robert Graves
  29. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe-1950-C. S. Lewis
  30. Lolita-1955-Vladimir Nabokov*
  31. Lord of the Flies-1955-William Golding
  32. Lucky Jim-1954-Kingsley Amis
  33. The Man Who Loved Children-1940-Christina Stead
  34. Midnight’s Children-1981-Salman Rushdie
  35. Mrs. Dalloway-1925-Virginia Woolf
  36. Naked Lunch-1959-William Burroughs
  37. Never Let Me Go-2005-Kazuo Ishiguro
  38. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-1962-Ken Kesey
  39. The Painted Bird-1965-Jerzy Kosinski
  40. A Passage to India-1924-E. M. Forster
  41. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie-1961-Muriel Sparks
  42. Snow Crash-1992-Neal Stephenson
  43. The Sound and the Fury-1929-William Faulkner
  44. The Sun Also Rises-1926-Ernest Hemingway
  45. Super Sad True Love Story-2010-Gary Shteyngart
  46. Things Fall Apart-1959-Chinua Achebe*
  47. To the Lighthouse-1927-Virginia Woolf
  48. Ubik-1969-Phillip Dick
  49. Ulysses-1922-James Joyce
  50. Under The Net-1954-Iris Murdoch
  51. Under The Volcano-1947-Malcolm Lowry
  52. Watchmen-1986-Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons*
  53. White Teeth-2000-Zadie Smith*
  54. Wide Sargasso Sea-1966-Jean Rhys*