I usually tend to almost violently eschew a cliché, and nothing borders on cliché as much as being a man who claims to have been deeply affected by the reading of “The Catcher In The Rye” as a teenager.
But I can’t state enough just how profoundly this work did affect me. The examination of the transition between childhood and adulthood at a time when I was struggling with just that. My own thinking about morality and honesty, truthfulness and what I now think of as transparency.
Each person reads and interprets a book differently (that is the beauty of them, really) and I’ve had some unusual conversations regarding this one. It also pains me that Mark David Chapman found what he did in his reading, leading to his decision to murder John Lennon. Reconciling my love for the book with that is a constant struggle for me.
Back in high school I used to question the notion of “classics” – who decided they were classic? Why is this work more important than others?
Over the years though, I’ve acknowledged that there are some works that really do transcend, that do represent something bigger, or more important, and that a failure to read them represents a deficiency in one’s life.
I think Catcher did capture something so truthful which explains why it has resonated with so many, and why it continues to be so important to this day.
I never “had” to read it, but over the course of the last 27 or so years I’ve probably done so nearly a dozen times. In fact, I think I’ll give it another go this weekend.
I’ve read all of Mr. Salinger’s published work. I sincerly hope that it is his wishes that the material he has been compiling over the last decades see the light of day now that he has passed. It is a shame to think of such treasures never being appreciated.
btw, I think The Onion nailed it with this one…