Catcher on the Rye - J.D. Salad Grrr

----- Original Message -----
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Sent: Monday, November 15, 2004 6:22 PM
Subject: Fwd: RE: Hi Alli

> note how this dude spells my name three different ways in one day. this
> article is actually interesting though. i never liked "catcher in the rye" so
> much.
> a
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> <> -----
> From: "" <>
> To:
> Subject: RE: Hi Alli
> Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 13:17:40 -0500
> Ally Adair, how the heck are you!
> You know how I found your email? I had it in my head that you were
> teaching at Iowa, but when I googled you I came across an entry on
> some grade your prof website where all the male students were saying
> that they wanted to marry Professor Adair, so I knew it had to be you.
> Anyway, the reason I was looking for you was that I thought you'd
> enjoy this article. I couldn't have said it better myself:
> The Washington Post
> October 19, 2004 Tuesday
> Final Edition
> SECTION: Style; C01 , JONATHAN YARDLEY Second Reading
> LENGTH: 1836 words
> HEADLINE: J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, Aging Gracelessly
> An occasional series in which The Post's book critic reconsiders
> notable and/or neglected books from the past.
> An occasional series in which The Post's book critic reconsiders notable
> and/or neglected books from the past.
> Precisely how old I was when I first read "The Catcher in the Rye," I
> cannot recall. When it was published, in 1951, I was 12 years old, and
> thus may have been a trifle young for it. Within the next two or three
> years, though, I was on a forced march through a couple of schools
> similar to Pencey Prep, from which J.D. Salinger's 16-year-old
> protagonist Holden Caulfield is dismissed as the novel begins, and I was
> an unhappy camper; what I had heard about "The Catcher in the Rye"
> surely convinced me that Caulfield was a kindred spirit.
> By then "The Catcher in the Rye" was already well on the way to the
> status it has long enjoyed as an essential document of American
> adolescence -- the novel that every high school English teacher
> reflexively puts on every summer reading list -- but I couldn't see what
> all the excitement was about. I shared Caulfield's contempt for
> "phonies" as well as his sense of being different and his loneliness,
> but he seemed to me just about as phony as those he criticized as well
> as an unregenerate whiner and egotist. It was easy enough to identify
> with his adolescent angst, but his puerile attitudinizing was something
> else altogether.
> That was then. This is half a century later. "The Catcher in the Rye" is
> now, you'll be told just about anywhere you ask, an "American classic,"
> right up there with the book that was published the following year,
> Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." They are two of the most
> durable and beloved books in American literature and, by any reasonable
> critical standard, two of the worst. Rereading "The Catcher in the Rye"
> after all those years was almost literally a painful experience: The
> combination of Salinger's execrable prose and Caulfield's jejune
> narcissism produced effects comparable to mainlining castor oil.
> Over that half-century I'd pretty much forgotten about "The Catcher in
> the Rye," though scarcely about Salinger, whose celebrated reclusiveness
> has had the effect of keeping him in the public eye. He has published no
> books since "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An
> Introduction" in 1963, but plenty has been published about him,
> including Ian Hamilton's decidedly unauthorized biography, "In Search of
> J.D. Salinger" (1988); Joyce Maynard's self-serving account of her
> affair with him, "At Home in the World" (1998); and his daughter
> Margaret A. Salinger's (also self-serving) memoir, "Dream Catcher"
> (2000), not to mention reams of lit crit and fanzine fawning. Rumors
> repeatedly make their way across the land that Salinger is busily at his
> writing table, that his literary fecundity remains undiminished, that
> bank vaults in New England contain vast stores of unpublished
> Salingeriana, but to date all the speculation has come to naught, for
> which we should -- though too many people won't -- be grateful.
> If there's an odder duck in American literature than Salinger, his or
> her name doesn't come quickly to mind. He started out conventionally
> enough -- born in Manhattan in 1919, served (valiantly) in the infantry
> in Europe during World War II, wrote short stories that were published
> in respectable magazines, notably the New Yorker -- but he seems to have
> been totally undone by the fame that "The Catcher in the Rye" inflicted
> upon him. For nearly four decades he has been a semi-hermit (he married
> for the third time about a decade and a half ago) in his New England
> fastness, spurning journalists and fending off adoring fans, practicing
> the Zen Buddhism that seems to have become an obsession with him.
> It's weird, but it's also his business. If, Garbolike, he just vants to
> be alone, he's entitled. But whether calculated or not, his
> reclusiveness has created an aura that heightens, rather than
> diminishes, the mystique of "The Catcher in the Rye." It isn't just a
> novel, it's a dispatch from an unknown, mysterious universe, which may
> help explain the phenomenal sales it enjoys to this day: about 250,000
> copies a year, with total worldwide sales over -- probably way over --
> 10 million. The mass-market paperback I bought last summer is,
> incredibly, from the 42nd printing; for the astonishing price of $35,000
> you can buy, online, a signed copy not of the first edition -- a signed
> copy of that, we must assume, would be almost literally priceless -- but
> of the 1951 Book-of-the-Month Club edition.
> Viewed from the vantage point of half a century, the novel raises more
> questions than it answers. Why is a book about a spoiled rich kid kicked
> out of a fancy prep school so widely read by ordinary Americans, the
> overwhelming majority of whom have limited means and attend, or
> attended, public schools? Why is Holden Caulfield nearly universally
> seen as "a symbol of purity and sensitivity" (as "The Oxford Companion
> to American Literature" puts it) when he's merely self-regarding and
> callow? Why do English teachers, whose responsibility is to teach good
> writing, repeatedly and reflexively require students to read a book as
> badly written as this one?
> That last question actually is easily answered: "The Catcher in the Rye"
> can be fobbed off on kids as a book about themselves. It is required
> reading as therapy, a way to encourage young people to bathe in the
> warm, soothing waters of resentment (all grown-ups are phonies) and
> self-pity without having to think a lucid thought. Like that other
> (albeit marginally better) novel about lachrymose preppies, John
> Knowles's "A Separate Peace" (1960), "The Catcher in the Rye" touches
> adolescents' emotional buttons without putting their minds to work. It's
> easy for them, which makes it easy for teacher.
> What most struck me upon reading it for a second time was how
> sentimental -- how outright squishy -- it is. The novel is commonly
> represented as an expression of adolescent cynicism and rebellion -- a
> James Dean movie in print -- but from first page to last Salinger wants
> to have it both ways. Holden is a rebel and all that -- "the most
> terrific liar you ever saw in your life," "probably the biggest sex
> maniac you ever saw" -- but he's a softy at heart. He's always pitying
> people -- "I felt sorry as hell for him, all of a sudden," "You had to
> feel a little sorry for the crazy sonuvabitch," "Real ugly girls have it
> tough. I feel so sorry for them sometimes" -- and he is positively a
> saint when it comes to his little sister, Phoebe. He buys a record for
> her, "Little Shirley Beans," and in the course of moping around
> Manhattan he does something clumsy that gives him the chance to show
> what a good-hearted guy he really is:
> "Then something terrible happened just as I got in the park. I dropped
> old Phoebe's record. It broke into about fifty pieces. It was in a big
> envelope and all, but it broke anyway. I damn near cried, it made me
> feel so terrible, but all I did was, I took the pieces out of the
> envelope and put them in my coat pocket. They weren't good for anything,
> but I didn't feel like just throwing them away. Then I went in the park.
> Boy, was it dark."
> Me, I damn near puked. That passage is flagrantly manipulative, a tug on
> the heartstrings aimed at bringing a tear to the eye. Ditto for Holden's
> brother, Allie: "He's dead now. He got leukemia and died when we were up
> in Maine, on July 18, 1946. You'd have liked him. He was two years
> younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent. He was
> terrifically intelligent. His teachers were always writing letters to my
> mother, telling her what a pleasure it was having a boy like Allie in
> their class. And they weren't just shooting the crap. They really meant
> it."
> That's just easy exploitation of the reader's emotion. Give your
> protagonist a dead younger brother and a cute little sister -- not to
> mention a revered older brother, D.B., a gifted writer who sounds a
> whole lot like J.D. Salinger himself -- and the rest is strictly
> downhill. From first page to last, "The Catcher in the Rye" is an
> exercise in button-pushing, and the biggest button it pushes is the
> adolescent's uncertainty and insecurity as he or she perches
> precariously between childhood, which is remembered fondly and
> wistfully, and adulthood, which is the great phony unknown. Indeed a
> case can be made that "The Catcher in the Rye" created adolescence as we
> now know it, a condition that barely existed until Salinger defined it.
> He established whining rebellion as essential to adolescence and it has
> remained such ever since. It was a short leap indeed from "The Catcher
> in the Rye" to "The Blackboard Jungle" to "Rebel Without a Cause" to
> Valley Girls to the multibillion-dollar industry that adolescent angst
> is today.
> The cheap sentimentality with which the novel is suffused reaches a
> climax of sorts when Holden's literary side comes to the fore. He flunks
> all his courses except English. "I'm quite illiterate," he says early in
> the book, "but I read a lot," which establishes the mixture of
> self-deprecation and self-congratulation that seems to appeal to so many
> readers. In one of the novel's more widely quoted passages he then says:
> "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading
> it, you wish 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. That
> doesn't happen much, though. I wouldn't mind calling this Isak Dinesen
> up. And Ring Lardner, except that D.B. told me he's dead."
> That Ring Lardner is one of Holden's favorite writers is a considerable,
> if wholly inadvertent, irony. Lardner was the master of the American
> vernacular who, as H.L. Mencken wrote, "set down common American
> with the utmost precision." Salinger, by contrast, can be seen straining at
> every turn to write the way an American teenager would speak, but he
> only produces an adult's unwitting parody of teen-speak. Unlike Lardner,
> Salinger has a tin ear. His characters forever say "ya" for "you," as in
> "ya know," which no American except perhaps a slapstick comedian ever
> has said. Americans say "yuh know" or "y'know," but never "ya know."
> "The Catcher in the Rye" is a maladroit, mawkish novel, but there can be
> no question about its popularity or influence. My own hunch is that the
> reason is the utter, innocent sincerity with which it was written. It
> may be manipulative, but it's not phony. A better, more cynical writer
> than Salinger easily could write a book about a troubled yet appealing
> teenager, but its artifice and insincerity would be self-evident and
> readers would reject it as false. Whatever its shortcomings, "The
> Catcher in the Rye" is from the heart -- not Holden Caulfield's heart,
> but Jerome David Salinger's. He said everything he had to say in it,
> which may well be why he has said nothing else.
> "The Catcher in the Rye" is available in a $5.99 mass-market paperback
> (Little, Brown) and a $13.95 trade paperback (Back Bay Books) that
> reproduces the original dust jacket.
> Jonathan Yardley's e-mail address is

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, November 26, 2004 3:18 PM
Subject: Fwd: RE: Hi Alli

ally adair! how the hell are ya?

> puerile attitudinizing

amusing couplet.

the guy may be right for all i know (or care) about salinger. but he's a bit too much of a know-it-all for my taste. too much to prove, and not enough give. how i used to be. anyway. i am glad i read the amount i did, which was about 1/3 of it.

> mainlining castor oil.

is this some kind of a drug reference? yes, when i want to learn how to get the most out of iv drug use (or change the oil of my car), Jonathan Yardley will be the first person I look up.