I happened across Catcher in the Rye at my Uncle’s house in Yorkshire in November 2010. I picked three or four books up by Daphne Du Maurier and then decided to add an extra tome to pile for good measure. Its name was familiar due to JD Salinger’s death earlier in the year and the book’s place in the Top 100 BBC Reads. I like nothing better than curling up with a good book on a long train journey and so I saved it for my trip back to Reading from York, and two-and-a-half hours later I was both nearing the end 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. That it was banned and censored a number of times in its history perhapds only added to the notoriety and fame so associated with J D Salinger’s best loved book.
Coming from someone whose favourite writers, prior to working my way through the BBC Top 100, have tended to be women, I can now say that JD Salinger is up there with the best of them. Catcher in the Rye is an absolutely captivating book.
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