What I am reading – Catcher in the Rye

I had read it a long time ago.  I think I bought a used copy at one of my trips to Powells in Portland, but a recent re-run of a South Park episode, “Scrotty McBoogerballs” caused me to pick it up again.

Certainly one of the best works of the 20th century.
Certainly one of the best works of the 20th century.

I am talking of course about Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. A story told from the eyes of the main protagonist, it is alive with the references and language that a troubled teen would use. When I was in high school, the words were different, and I didn’t go to a boys only prep school, but we used the lingua franca of the times in our daily conversation, much as Holden does in Catcher.

I did not read it as a teen, because at that time it was prohibited from the library. But had I, I would have identified well with Holden. Perhaps not as brusk or abrasive, but, like many, High School was a tumultuous time for me.

The premise of the South Park episode is that the boys are assigned the book, and told it used to be banned.  Thinking that it was filled with foul language, sexual innuendo and other titillating tidbits, the boys are disappointed in how tame the book was.

Likewise, my original thoughts on reading a “banned” book, the first time I read it I was looking for the causes of that banishment, but failed to “get” the whole point of the story.  This time through, I am reading it carefully, enjoying and savoring the experiences of Holden Caulfield, and his recounting of his experiences. It is both entertaining, and thought provoking.

If you haven’t read it, or read it a long time ago, I highly recommend picking up this classic, and re-reading it, perhaps a few times, to truly grok its fullness.

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