Book Review: Lighten Up, Holden

The Catcher in the Rye is considered one of the literary classics of the twentieth century. J.D. Salinger managed to have this published in 1951. The main character, Holden Caulfield, apparently embodies the epitome of teen-age angst and depression. This novel has some curious links to a couple of national tragedies such as the murder of John Lennon and the attempted assassination of President Reagon.

Holden is unhappy with the changes in his life. Of course, he is in some kind of institution or school, which he ends up leaving and engages in some misadventures in New York. He apparently wants to find his brother in Hollywood and try his luck out there. He has an unfortunate encounter with a prostitute and her pump, becomes unusually interested in the migration habits of ducks, and gets sloshed enough to annoy an old friend. Holden just doesn’t many people or much of anything.

I was both interested a bit in Holden’s psychology and a little put out with him. To be fair, this isn’t my usual genre of choice, but I sometimes try to expand my literary horizons and I am in a book club. This particular edition was a gift from a friend who got it from a renowned bookstore in Paris, so I figured it needed to perused out of some sense of obligation.

I didn’t find this to be a terrible experience, but I was a little baffled as to the reasons for the acclaim it has achieved. I think I have an idea as to why this piece resonated with certain psychos over the years, but that may be for another time at a coffee shop or after a few cocktails and I feel the need to delve into social and philosophical theoretical psychology or something just as vapid.

I found the story to be somewhat meandering and without much of a point. It may be a spoiler that Holden is somewhat unlikeable, but he doesn’t commit any acts of mass carnage. Although I am glad that I finally gave this novel a chance, I doubt I will be rushing back to it anytime soon. Also, I am sure this doesn’t really need to be said, but I will add my reassurance than I am not feeling particularly motivated to commit any acts of mass carnage or murder either….well. not motivated by this book anyway.

I guess I found this to be a bit overhyped, but it may have been more revolutionary or novel when it first came out. The pun may be intended in case anyone wondered. Anyway, it was an interesting stop on the endless road of literary indulgence but probably more for the reputation of this book than the actual prose.

Now that I have had a hit of the more serious, intellectual contributions to the printed word, time to break out the popcorn literature and relax a bit. James Lovegrove returns to the mystique and adventures to be found within the walls of 221 B Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson return to Baskerville Hall to learn the secrets of The Beast of the Stapletons.

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