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

the list revision

female author: check. non-'american' author: check.

After emerging curiosity and biases, along with the realization that I’m cheating myself with so many re-reads, I’ve revised The List:

  1. Four re-reads have been replaced,
  2. I’m reading a (different) Philip Roth after Callil quit over his 2011 Man Booker win,
  3. I’m tossing Naipaul because he’s a bigoted ass-wipe -Jean Rhys has the Caribbean covered and I’ve reached my limit with his bullshit,
  4. The List has been de-Yank-ified -although with Nabokov classed as ‘American’ and Rhys as ‘English’, national status isn’t terribly meaningful- and
  5. As many female authors as possible, from a severely restricted ‘Top 100‘, have been added.

it’s been a while…

When it’s winter and nighttime in this great southern land, it’s summer and daytime up north, which means this fiendin’ sista gets no sleep – I’m nightly on the tube, high as a kite on sports. By day, with bleeding eyes and chilblained fingers, I groan through the perfunctory.

Welcome to zombie-land, you’re stuck on this fun ride for three months solid!

I’m not about to feign regret. It will happen again next year, and 2012 will be disgusting since it’s an Olympic year. Like I said, it’s the way daddy made me.

But wait, I recall musical digressions too.

Reggae/Dancehall is meant for sticky summer nights, if only for the batty riders and dry-humping. But Gyptian, my beautiful Jamaican brother, braved our Melbourne cold and so did I. He was beautiful. His stage presence and voice were incredible. Granted, there was no band, just some dude mixing riddims which shits me no end, but did I mention Gyptian is beautiful and brotha can sing?

The night was further blighted by a police incident. ‘Nuf said.

Wherever you are, nothing beats local talent and Karnivool is phenomenal. Ian Kenny is a weedy bespectacled musical god. I happily destroyed myself in an albeit lame pit – I know, I’m as weak as pus – but my hoarseness and aching neck paid tribute to those Perth boys. I close on them with Fade and testament to just how hard these fuckers work.

Oscar+Martin, a joyful answer to Friendly Fires and Sparkadia, and down-the-road local boys from Two Bright Lakes, was also a treat. I was nearly the tallest, a novelty, and definitely the oldest, sadly not a novelty, at this gig. The best bit by far was the kid taking puffs off his inhaler before dipping into a killer hip-hop skit. And those drums, man I loves me some drums! Here they are in video…

Finally, I mourn the passing of a legend.

On July 23, 2011, Amy Winehouse died. She was love too raw, too exposed. She numbed the hurt of love to death. I rend my shirt for the one who gave pieces of her soul in prescient lyrics and infallible tones unceasingly, and am ashamed that I have nothing but endless tears to give back…

If my man was fighting
Some unholy war
I would be behind him
Straight shook up beside him
With strength he didn’t know
It’s you I’m fighting for
He can’t lose with me in tow
I refuse to let him go
At his side and drunk on pride
We wait for the blow
We put it in writing
But we are writing for
Just us on kitchen floor
Justice done presiding
My stomach standing still like you reading my will
Still stands in spite of what his scars say
And I’ll battle til this bitter finale
Just me, my dignity and this guitar case
Yeah, my man is fighting some unholy war
I will stand beside you
And who you dying for?
B, I would have died too. I’d like to
If my man was fighting
Some unholy war…

You died and became immortal, Amy Winehouse. And I grieve.

Oh, and I ploughed through some heavies, On The Road, The Grapes of Wrath and All The King’s Men included. I have new thoughts on the blog, and will be changing The List accordingly.

So begins my battle – nearly dried out, newly rested and clutching sketchy drafts – to reclaim the second half of fiftytwoin52….

less than one week til i go cold turkey…

le tour de france, 2011

While on my Northern-Hemisphere-Summer-of-Sports fix, which is sadly and thankfully about to end with LeTour, I’ve been reading and tweeting. Check out the tweets here.

Beginning to miss my blog dearly, however, expect me to be off the wagon again in September when the US Open  begins in NYC, but only for two weeks as opposed to three months. It’z da way it iz…

freudian shits

you said your bother...

I just noticed ‘solomom’, fuck knows how long it’s been there. Funny, since that’s all I’ve been for two weeks solid – the padawan and princess are on holiday. Every thought has to be rushed at peril of interruption. Mommy, can I have _____? Mommy, _____said/did _____! Mommy, can you play with me? Must wrap this up now. The squinkies and clone troopers are…

where ya been, woman?!

rafa and what's his face @ men's final french open, 2011

I’d like to blame it all on being very ill after a trip to Sydney (I really was), but the truth is, a little event at Roland Garros put a world-class moratorium on my book blog. I’m a little bit of a tennis fan, so May/June are write-off months for me. I watch live sports all night and sleepwalk all day.

I have a week or two before SW19 flu (a.k.a. Wimbledon) takes hold, so I’ll be slamming down the rest of The Grapes of Wrath and The Heart of the Matter before I become hopelessly distracted again.

The pains of blogging! Vamos Rafa and Serena!!!

we need to talk about tilda


Not on The List, but the BBC film adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin, directed by Lynne Ramsay (once sacked and replaced by Peter Jackson in The Lovely Bones) and led by the amazing Tilda Swinton, gives me mad chills.

We Need To talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver is a thoughtful and riveting thriller about the relationship between a New York career-oriented mother and her unusual son who grows up to be a Columbine-style mass murderer. Its discourse on nature v. nurture is compelling, so much so it fucked me up royally for weeks, and I began frequently and randomly hugging my kids for much longer that they were comfortable with.

I cannot wait to see the movie.