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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Feel Less Lonely; also, The Inspiration of a Lifetime
"The Catcher in the Rye" made me feel less lonely at a time (15 years of age) when all I touched, as Salinger put it in one of his legendary nine short stories, seemed to turn to complete loneliness. It's the reason I started writing.

THE INFATUATION
For the longest time I tried to keep my obsession with Salinger's only full-length novel to myself. Oh I...
Published on Sept. 21 2009 by Jonathan Mendelsohn

versus
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Uniquely American Tale of Teenage Cynicism
For several years the connotation of a being a "classic" had kept me from reading J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Not knowing specifically what it was about, I finally gave into curiosity when I read it for a literature class. I was instantly sorry I had waited so long to read this book. Holden Caulfield is a lazy, cynical teen in 1950s America and he has just...
Published on May 19 2003 by Jonathan Hawks


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Feel Less Lonely; also, The Inspiration of a Lifetime, Sept. 21 2009
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Paperback)
"The Catcher in the Rye" made me feel less lonely at a time (15 years of age) when all I touched, as Salinger put it in one of his legendary nine short stories, seemed to turn to complete loneliness. It's the reason I started writing.

THE INFATUATION
For the longest time I tried to keep my obsession with Salinger's only full-length novel to myself. Oh I would tell people I loved the book, or that Salinger was my favourite writer, but I honestly tried to not go further with it than that, to put a lid on it. I'd never have admitted that it wooed me to falling in love with New York forever, never mind the number of times I have read it, not including random flips for favourite passages. Or the fact that I somehow managed to write my Masters thesis on it, when my Masters was in applied linguistics not English literature.

That first 15 year-old time was not for school, which may be the key to everything. I read it fast, just a few days and I was not (and am not) a fast reader. Holden Caufield's breezy first-person narration was so much like conversation you just zipped through. The book's famous opening:

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."

The book read so fast, so easy, so true I was convinced it was pure autobiography. Not even, cause autobiography still implies some semblance of putting together, of structure, work, effort. 'Catcher' to me that first read, and the way it stayed in my mind long after (cause I wouldn't re-read it for at least five years, afraid of tainting that first read experience) was, I was sure, simply, if beautifully, Salinger writing his thoughts and experiences in a journal. The book was a particularly fascinating series of diary scribblings. This to me was profound because it felt like the true heart of a person, which has always captured me more than the mind, and the gimmicky tricks it can play (much as a twist ending is always exciting it's not the kind of thing that'll make it to my desert island).

WHAT LIES BEYOND POP IN MUSIC, AND HARRY POTTER IN FICTION
"Catcher" was not a story, not in the Narnia, Hardy Boys sense. "Catcher" spoke the truth about things that I was living, that I was struggling with. The "Hardy Boys" was like a Coke treat. "Catcher" was water. I NEEDED it.

HIS TRUTH
Holden spoke of things I'd never heard anyone say. He spoke the thoughts I had in my head. About the phoniness of people. About dishonesty and how hard life can be. And somehow, in travelling with him as he sneaks out one night to leave Pencey Prep forever (the school he is about to be kicked out of anyway) and trains it to New York, I felt less lonely. This kid was searching for something as I was, as so many kids do as they hit that age when they start to become aware of the world. And what I love is that the novel is as much about grand philosophies, on death, and what it means to live, and about losing the innocence of childhood, as it is about the simpler (or maybe more complicated) things. Like girls.

"I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can."

Great art is about connection. At 15 I was sure I was Holden. In my twenties it was Salinger I wanted to emulate most. The real point though is about what makes a book great, what makes something worth re-visiting. Holden, of course, says it better than I can:

"What really knocks me out is a book, when you're all done reading it, you wished the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it."

This is the end of Part I.
-Bookworm, Movie Nerd
For Part II:
[...]
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Uniquely American Tale of Teenage Cynicism, May 19 2003
By 
Jonathan Hawks (West Des Moines, Iowa USA) - See all my reviews
For several years the connotation of a being a "classic" had kept me from reading J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Not knowing specifically what it was about, I finally gave into curiosity when I read it for a literature class. I was instantly sorry I had waited so long to read this book. Holden Caulfield is a lazy, cynical teen in 1950s America and he has just left his third prepatory school to return home to his family in New York City. His parents are expecting him home on a Wednesday, yet it is Monday, so the events of the novel unfold over two days in the Big Apple.
The theme that struck me the most was the one of trying to grow up too early. Holden is very much like this. He presents himself as a mature figure, smoking, drinking, hanging out in clubs, yet in his personal relationships with people, he acts quite immature. In one part of the story, Holden calls up a prostitute, wanting to become a man after all the stories he had heard about girls from his class mates at Pencey Prep, only to acquiesce to his lack of experience and asks if the prostitute would "like to talk".
My main complaint of this novel is that it reads like a journal, giving only Holden's perspective on the events that occur. I believe it would have been an improvement if Salinger had given us a look into other character's minds so we could see their perspective. This is an especially important flaw because Holden, at his center, constantly wonders what others think of him.
I would recommend this novel to teenagers, especially those who feel they do not fit into their particular environment. I know when I was younger I could definitely relate to Holden. I also find it a delicious irony that much like Holden, J.D. Salinger has spent the better part of a century in seclusion in his Northeast home.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Novel, Sept. 4 2006
By 
It's the second time I am reading this novel. The first time was about 10 years ago when I just came to Canada for studying in the ESL 3 high school class. It was one of our required readings. I didn't quite like the book the first time I was reading it because at that time I thought the whole story was about this damn stupid crazy kid Holden horsing around in New York City and swearing throughout the book. I couldn't remember and doubt if I actually finished reading the whole book first time. Anyhow, this time I've realized that this book is much deeper then I previously thought. It uses a lot of metaphors to describe the world that crazy kid was experiencing at that moment of his life. But even so, I wouldn't recommend this book to ESL or grade 10 students.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Never Fails To Amaze Me, May 4 2005
By 
The Catcher in the Rye is a book about a young man named Holden Caulfield who gets traumatized by the death of his brother Allie. This story is narrated by Holden himself as he tells the story to a Psychiatrist in a psychiatric hospital.
Holden is a troubled young adult who is afraid of growing up because he doesn't like grown ups and he wishes he could stay a child. Throughout the book Holden describes why he doesn't like grownups (I don't want to completely ruin the book for you so I won't tell you any reasons.) and why he loves children.
When I read Catcher in the Rye I was really moved at how J.D. Salinger used various symbols throughout the book to help you get inside the mind of Holden Caulfield. The main symbol in the book when holden talks of being the catcher in the rye and standing on the edge of the field keeping the children from falling off. What Holden means by this is that he just wants to keep kids from falling off the cliff and dying (child dying and becoming an adult). Holden beleives children are innocent and he respects them completely. I really thought it was neat that although Holden curses every five to six words throughout the book, when he talks about any child he doesn't curse at all. This is one way that J.D. Salinger shows holdens respect for children in the book.
I must add that even though I absolutely loved this book, friends of mine said they didn't like the book because there were too many symbols and they didn't catch them all therefore the book didn't make much sense to them. I must say this could be a problem for many people. I have read The Catcher in the Rye several times and every time it never fails but I seem to catch something new that I missed before. This is one of the many reasons why this book is one of my favorites. Give it try! Another recent Amazon purchase I loved is THE LOSERS CLUB: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez -- it also takes place in New York City and is about loneliness and not fitting in -- and reminds me in certain ways of The Catcher In the Rye.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Never Fails To Amaze Me, July 9 2005
By 
The Catcher in the Rye is a book about a young man named Holden Caulfield who gets traumatized by the death of his brother Allie. This story is narrated by Holden himself as he tells the story to a Psychiatrist in a psychiatric hospital.
Holden is a troubled young adult who is afraid of growing up because he doesn't like grown ups and he wishes he could stay a child. Throughout the book Holden describes why he doesn't like grownups (I don't want to completely ruin the book for you so I won't tell you any reasons.) and why he loves children.
When I read Catcher in the Rye I was really moved at how J.D. Salinger used various symbols throughout the book to help you get inside the mind of Holden Caulfield. The main symbol in the book when Holden talks of being the catcher in the rye and standing on the edge of the field keeping the children from falling off. What Holden means by this is that he just wants to keep kids from falling off the cliff and dying (child dying and becoming an adult). Holden believes children are innocent and he respects them completely. I really thought it was neat that although Holden curses every five to six words throughout the book, when he talks about any child he doesn't curse at all. This is one way that J.D. Salinger shows Holden's respect for children in the book.
I must add that even though I absolutely loved this book, friends of mine said they didn't like the book because there were too many symbols and they didn't catch them all therefore the book didn't make much sense to them. I must say this could be a problem for many people. I have read The Catcher in the Rye several times and every time it never fails but I seem to catch something new that I missed before. This is one of the many reasons why this book is one of my favorites. Give it try! Another recent Amazon purchase I loved is THE LOSERS CLUB: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez -- it also takes place in New York City and is about loneliness and not fitting in -- and reminds me in certain ways of The Catcher In the Rye.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pure exploration of character, July 2 2005
By 
Boliver (Sacramento, CA) - See all my reviews
What is wonderful about Catcher in the Rye is what you don't notice. You do not notice that nothing is actually happening, that there is no beginning, middle and end. At the end you feel as though have been left in the middle of Holden Caulfied's story, as in true character, he gets bored with telling us. He only half tells us tales, we never know how his brother dies or why he wished he had let him come with him that day. Yet not knowing, not having a series of neatly tied up tales of a boy's life is refreshing and intriguing. Who needs a plot when you are given a whole series of clues about the person that is Holden Caulfield?
This book is about a person's self-discovery, or lack of it, and the power you feel as the reader is the knowledge you hold from a distance. That the tragedy and the pathos of the novel is that Holden Caulfield has yet to realise his place in the world. All the way through he doesn't know why he thinks things and feels things and for all his failures you like him because you know he has the potential to become a good man.
It is easy to see why this book offends people and why people find the book difficult. It is after all the self-indulgent ramblings of an immature teenager. At times Holden is dislikeable, he fails to see the effects of his behaviour on the people around him. He becomes absorbed by the idea of what is real and is constantly disappointed by the "phony" people that surround him. The fact that the book obsesses with this may be tiresome for some.
However, this is the heart of what is brilliant about this text. As teenagers we all wondered around scared to death because we didn't know who we are, that we felt phony ourselves because most of the time we acted as we thought we should in order to survive. This is what Holden is doing throughout. He joins the secret fraternity because he feels he ought to and then hates himself for it. He looks out at those who are excluded and feels pity for them and hatred for himself. At times he tries to be himself, which is actually quite sensitive. The fact that he wrote his composition on his dead brother's baseball mitt is evidence of this. The fact he later violently attacks his room mate in defence of a girl is also strangely sensitive as you can clearly see his motivations.
What is most impressive is the truth of the voice. The narration is obviously first person; therefore we are hearing the thoughts of a teenage boy. It would seem perverse then to endow him with an impressive ability to articulate his world when the whole book aims to reveal how little he yet realises about his world. There is a repetition of the same phraseology throughout but this is true to a generation that distinguishes itself with catch phrases that seek to exclude older generations.
Therefore the language and the plot are limited. These are sound criticisms of the book but to dismiss it because of these is to miss the point. The book is meant to explore Holden and to explore you. You knew exactly what the ex-English teacher was trying to say to him and you wish you had that bit of paper to refer to as well. Get offended if you wish but then try and understand too. This book is just very honest; you need to face up to it. Pick up a copy! Another wonderful book I recommend is THE LOSERS CLUB: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Capital C.L.A.S.S.I.C, June 28 2005
I first read this book in 7th grade--I picked it up on my own. I think that's the best thing I could have done for myself at the time. I again read it in 8th grade on my own, and then in 10th we read it for my English class. I have picked it up since then, and have read it about 5 times now. I guess the question always remains: What draws people to this book? What makes them read it over and over? I answer because it's good. Such a simple word, but true. There are only a handful of books I can say this about---------"East of Eden," McCrae's "Children's Corner" and most of Vonnegut's books------------. In 11th grade this "Catcher" book played a major role in my life again. I wrote my term paper on JD Salinger. In some ways understanding the author helps you understand this book. I think the most important aspect that everyone must remember is the impact this book can and will have on certain individuals. And it seems so far that most of it has been received well, and I'm glad. I would recommend that young teens read this book--all of them. The main character's personality is easy to identify with. In some form I believe that deep down we all see a little of Holden in ourselves. And some people have a hard time dealing with it, but it can't be denied. I believe what's so compelling about this character is his honesty--brutal honesty. I think a lot of us think what he is saying, although we would never say it out loud, and we would never admit it, but we can all understand and feel where Holden is coming from and to a certain degree we all see the phonies in this world and we all miss our age of innocence. Holden called it like he saw it and that's what I respected most about his character. He said the things I was thinking, he put those thoughts into words I could never have imagined, and my life changed and grew as his did throughout the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Milestone, June 23 2005
By 
If there is a book to rival HUCKELBERRY FINN as the "Great American Novel," it is surely J.D. Salinger's "Catcher In The Rye". This book has been lauded to the high heavens and banned to the brimstone of hell, but it keeps on selling and enthralling readers, mainly young readers, year after year.
Slamming into the American consciousness with all the subtlety of a herd of bulls in a china shop, CATCHER took the reading public by storm with its publication on July 16, 1951. It hasn't stopped since. Why? Essentially, it is because Holden Caulfield, the voice in the book, touches a nerve time after time in the book and that nerve alternately is connected to the humorously hilarious and the absurdly sad parts of the reader.
I must admit, it helps to have a sense of humor and a sense of irony, but if you have that you are already a long way into the book. What is the story about? It is an improbable story, to say the least. I think this is one part of its astounding power: the fact that it seems so vapid and powerless until you get into it, and then the hurricane-force power of it hits you and won't let go.
The book begins with Holden Caulfield, the 17-year-old narrator and protagonist, addressing the reader from a sanitarium or mental hospital in Southern California. He is about to tell us about a remarkable 48 hours that happened in the last December. Then we go into a long, long flashback in Holden's mind. Holden starts his story at Pencey Prep School, on the Saturday afternoon of the old-school-rivalry football game with arch-adversary Saxon Hall. Holden is the manager of the school's fencing team, and he loses the team's equipment on the subway, and the story goes complicatedly into a freakish but funny nightmare from there, with Holden giving us a wry (RYE?) commentary all the way to the end. The end, as we said at the beginning, takes place at a mental hospital.
After reading the book you will fully understand why. One of the main themes of the book is the struggle between that which is authentic and that which is artificial. Holden wants to cut through artificiality to truth, but it evades him time after time. The book also wrestles with the problem of innocence. Holden likes innocence. He sees a world of corruption and he sees very few innocents in it; most are darkly guilty as if touched by a contagion. But he cannot decide where innocence really resides. Then there is the theme of death, a consistent harbinger throughout the book. Even though Holden is only 17, we can almost hear his own biological clock ticking. Confusion and/or ambivalence about sexuality is a major part of the book as well. Holden is deeply heterosexual, but he is open to gay people; indeed people of all kinds when it comes to sexual chemistry. This was a bold move for Salinger, but It moved a lot of people in the end; in post WWII America it was a tack to take straight into a whirlpool, but CATCHER caught something and stayed afloat. A whole generation -- actually perhaps two or three -- were influenced by this great book.
If you haven't read the book, nothing could make you understand. If you are reading it for the first time, chances are nothing will be able to make you put it down. This book is literally one in a million: there's no other reading experience like it! Don't miss you chance to experience this great book! Also recommended: THE LOSERS' CLUB: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez, another comic novel about loneliness and loss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Milestone, June 22 2005
By 
If there is a book to rival HUCKELBERRY FINN as the "Great American Novel," it is surely J.D. Salinger's "Catcher In The Rye". This book has been lauded to the high heavens and banned to the brimstone of hell, but it keeps on selling and enthralling readers, mainly young readers, year after year.
Slamming into the American consciousness with all the subtlety of a herd of bulls in a china shop, CATCHER took the reading public by storm with its publication on July 16, 1951. It hasn't stopped since. Why? Essentially, it is because Holden Caulfield, the voice in the book, touches a nerve time after time in the book and that nerve alternately is connected to the humorously hilarious and the absurdly sad parts of the reader.
I must admit, it helps to have a sense of humor and a sense of irony, but if you have that you are already a long way into the book. What is the story about? It is an improbable story, to say the least. I think this is one part of its astounding power: the fact that it seems so vapid and powerless until you get into it, and then the hurricane-force power of it hits you and won't let go.
The book begins with Holden Caulfield, the 17-year-old narrator and protagonist, addressing the reader from a sanitarium or mental hospital in Southern California. He is about to tell us about a remarkable 48 hours that happened in the last December. Then we go into a long, long flashback in Holden's mind. Holden starts his story at Pencey Prep School, on the Saturday afternoon of the old-school-rivalry football game with arch-adversary Saxon Hall. Holden is the manager of the school's fencing team, and he loses the team's equipment on the subway, and the story goes complicatedly into a freakish but funny nightmare from there, with Holden giving us a wry (RYE?) commentary all the way to the end. The end, as we said at the beginning, takes place at a mental hospital.
After reading the book you will fully understand why. One of the main themes of the book is the struggle between that which is authentic and that which is artificial. Holden wants to cut through artificiality to truth, but it evades him time after time. The book also wrestles with the problem of innocence. Holden likes innocence. He sees a world of corruption and he sees very few innocents in it; most are darkly guilty as if touched by a contagion. But he cannot decide where innocence really resides. Then there is the theme of death, a consistent harbinger throughout the book. Even though Holden is only 17, we can almost hear his own biological clock ticking. Confusion and/or ambivalence about sexuality is a major part of the book as well. Holden is deeply heterosexual, but he is open to gay people; indeed people of all kinds when it comes to sexual chemistry. This was a bold move for Salinger, but It moved a lot of people in the end; in post WWII America it was a tack to take straight into a whirlpool, but CATCHER caught something and stayed afloat. A whole generation -- actually perhaps two or three -- were influenced by this great book.
If you haven't read the book, nothing could make you understand. If you are reading it for the first time, chances are nothing will be able to make you put it down. This book is literally one in a million: there's no other reading experience like it! Don't miss you chance to experience this great book! Also recommended: THE LOSERS' CLUB: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez, another comic novel about loneliness and loss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant -- MUST BE EXPERIENCED! to be believed!, June 12 2005
J.D. Salinger's 1945 book, Catcher in the Rye, told to us by the main character Holden Caulfield, begins the night before he leaves Pencey Prep after being kicked out for not applying himself to any subject except composition. It's at least the second school that has kicked him out and he hopes to delay facing his parents' wrath by bumming around New York City for a few days until his family expects him for Christmas vacation. He's a tall, fairly handsome, very cynical, smoking teenager who is still a virgin and has no direction in life. His apathy probably has to do with his post-WW II world as much as the death of his much-beloved, younger brother, Allie.
Holden's introduction sets the pace for the next 276 pages with 26 untitled chapters.
Soon you realize that Catcher in the Rye is told with many flashbacks that relate in some way to his present situation, with events leading up to his termination at Pencey and memories of his interactions with his roommate, neighbor, his kid sister, a teacher and girls. He horses around and tries to engage the first two in conversation when they ignore him or try to sleep. It isn't until he learns who Stradlater is dating that he shows some real concern.
Unable to stop worrying about this girl he knows well, Jane, Holden starts an ill-conceived, physical fight with Stradlater when he returns. All bloodied, Holden doesn't even clean up or stuff his nose, but forces an invitation from his neighbor to sleep in the bed of his gone-for-the-weekend roommate. It's not until Holden waits for the train to the city that he uses snow on his face. Throughout the book he keeps thinking fondly of this girl, wanting to call her only to fall out of the mood to do so. He also criticizes all movies now as stupid and forces himself to go to one alone while waiting to meet a snobbish friend in the city. He gets very little sleep, tries to get laid by a hooker, chickens out, tries to get drunk, tries to find out what happened to the ducks in Central Park now the water's frozen over. He provides a graphic picture of the eccentricities of people in the city as well as his own.
The title, Catcher in the Rye, comes from his dream of being on the edge of a rye field where there's a cliff and he's catching all the playing children before they fall off. I'm no Dr. Freud, but his role in the dream is probably two-fold with him wanting to be a child playing at life, but needing to be an adult who catches himself being irresponsible.
This classic, even after all these years, remains extremely fresh. Read it for a realistic, often amusing, coming-of-age portrait, a one of a kind character study, unlike any other. It has to be read to be understood. And its as much about style (the writing) as it is about anything else. Truly beautiful work. So buy CATCHER IN THE RYE! Give it try! Another recent Amazon purchase I loved is THE LOSERS CLUB: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez -- it also takes place in New York City and is about loneliness and not fitting in -- and reminds me in certain ways of The Catcher In the Rye.
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The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Hardcover - July 16 1951)
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