I happened across this book at my Uncle’s house in Yorkshire in November 2010. I picked three or four books up by Daphne Du Maurier alongside this one. It’s name was familiar die to JD Salinger’s death earlier in the year and its place in the Top 100 BBC Reads. I began it on the train journey from York to Reading and two-and-a-half hours later I was almost finished and absolutely enthralled.
There is nothing spectacular about this book; there is no epic plot like in Gone with the Wind, no sinister undertones so associated with Rebecca. It is a mere two hundred-or-so pages long. Despite all this, however, it’s without question one of the best and most gripping books I’ve ever read. The protagonist, despite his crude language, is amiable and charming and the book leaves you wanting to follow him through more of his escapades on his journey through adolescence. There is much controversy surrounding Catcher in the Rye; indeed Mark Chapman, convicted of John Lennon’s assassination, had the book on him at the time of the murder and was said to be ‘obsessed’ with the text. A teacher in America was also sacked for using it in a literature syllabus. However, fifty years on from its original publication, the frequent use of “goddamn” and “motherfucker” – which cause much outcry at the time, would, I imagine, have little affect on today’s reader.
Coming from someone whose favourite writers have always, perhaps ignorantly, been women, I can now say that JD Salinger is up there with the best of them. This is an absolutely captivating book.