Truth be told, the reason ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ ended up on my Reading Classics list was because I originally thought J.D. Salinger was a woman. Don’t ask me why I thought that, I just did. So colour me surprised when I found out this book was (a) not written by a woman and (b) about an incredibly whiny teenaged boy.
This book is basically a trip into the mind of an angsty, annoying cis-gendered, white, rich, heterosexual boy in the 1950s and that’s where my problem lies because I have nothing in common with this guy. I wasn’t even a particularly angsty teenager myself so reading this book was hella difficult. The narrative, a lot of the times, reminded me of how I am when I’m hungry and I don’t like myself then so surprise, I didn’t like Holden Caulfield.
I just couldn’t bring myself to care and the writing style of Salinger didn’t help because he writes oftentimes in staccato sentences; extremely short and repeating information two sentences after originally writing them. It’s like he expects me to forget what I read two sentences ago?! It just didn’t work for me.
Then there is also the misogyny. Women in general don’t mean much to Holden, they’re just there to facilitate his plot and ugh, I’m sorry but I can’t take my feminist 21st century goggles off for this. There’s some stuff I wish I hadn’t read. Yes, it’s a book published in 1951 but screw that.
I know John Green loves this book and he did a couple of videos both on vlogbrothers as well as Crash Course about this book and even after I watched them, it seems we read different stories because the elements he talks about, I just didn’t see them at all. And honestly, I don’t understand why this book is such a big deal. Maybe studying it in school would have helped but I’m pretty sure I would have still been bored with the story. And also, I’m a little bit bored of only having read male authors in school (well almost only) it’s as if women didn’t publish anything interesting ever. But that’s a tangent for a whole different blog post. I had so many thoughts about this book and it ended being a pretty shitty post summarising it all but I carried my rage with me so long while I was reading it that it was very difficult to hold onto any thought after I was done.