Not That I'm Obsessed
I first read it 1975 but I don't really remember my initial reaction to it except to say that I liked it. Then in 1978 I read it again and loved it. I wasn't like the main character but I understood him. His sarcasm, his wit and even his feelings of disconnect resonated with me. I was a bit unfocused myself at that age, easily frustrated and easily bored in school.
The next year I read it again. And the following year as well. After that it became a tradition for me. When the Christmas season would roll around - that time of year chosen because it's the time of year in the book - I would pick that novel up once more and read it.
This year will mark the thirtieth year in a row that I've read The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. The book I have now is not the same copy I originally read, but it's about twenty years old and is well worn. The cover is cracked and has a water ring on it from a glass having been set on it and the pages are yellow and threaten to fall out at any time.
Yeah, I know I should fix the photos and make it fit all tidy but laziness will win out.
Now it takes me not more than a day to read. Holden's sarcasm and goofy observations still make me laugh. The things that drive him crazy tend to be things that drive me crazy. And I can still remember what it was like to be his age and feel like everything around me was pointless bullshit and the world was crawling with phonies.
I think the reason why I first loved it and why I still loved it is because I first discovered it as a teenager. I believe it's probably rare for an adult to read it for the first time and find Holden to be anything else but irritating. But I still see him as I did when I was a teenager and maybe the reason I re-read his tale every year is to remember how I was back then. To remember how I was and in what ways I've changed. And in what ways I haven't. I know that some of my ways of speaking come from Holden.
My sixteen year old nephew, Sam, called me a few weeks ago to tell me that this quarter one of the books he had to read was The Catcher in the Rye. Sam's known for years that one of his Auntie Baba's quirks (I am never called Aunt Kim or Aunt Dixie - always Auntie Baba) is to read that book each year and he was anxious to tell me that he'd finally read it himself. I was gratified to know that he liked the same parts I like and laughed at the same spots that I do but I wasn't surprised. My sister always says that he takes after me so much that it's like having me around all the time.