Book Review: Catcher In The Rye

by WOO

What a pile of crap. Nothing like reading 200 pages of nothing. Let me give you the condensed version:

“This one thing happened. Man I hate that. It’s so phony. Then something else happened. It killed me. I did such and such like a madman. The end.”

That’s the basic gist of this entire literary purse-snatcher. Our main character is supposed to be an angsty teenager, and this is somehow supposed to relate to the reader. I remember my teen years, but I don’t recall being an absolute ass-clown like this bastard. Holden Caulfield should be a slang term for kids that choose to screw themselves in life. If only someone in a People Killing Hat had let loose on Salinger before this shitpile missive was ever penned.

I’ll take this moment now to warn you of spoilers in the coming diatribe. I don’t know why though, because you should never read this suck-assed pile of shit.

So we follow this clusterfuck of a main character around for several days, painfully reading as he takes every possible good situation and screws it up. Why does he screw it up? Typically because he thinks it is “phony” or he “hates” it for no obvious reasons. Hell, he even goes to visit his History teacher, whom he likes and respects probably more than anyone, but becomes annoyed that this man is telling him he can and should do better.

Let’s follow that up with some whining and crying about a relationship he screwed up (big surprise!). His roomate is dating this girl now, but Holden’s angsty-ass can’t get over her, so he earns himself a bloody nose at the hands of this roomate, Stradlater. So, tail between his legs, he decides to head to his hometown. Rather than just tell his parents he is home he decided to stay in a hotel for three days.

When he arrives back to Manhatten he goes to a phone-booth, considering calling several people. For more dumbshit reasons he decides against it, and heads off to a hotel. At this point, becoming aroused by his voyeurism of other hotel guests, Caulfield decides to call up a girl in town. He got her number from someone at Princeton while he was there. He’s never met her, but he heard she was a stripper, so he assumes he’ll be able to tap that ass without much effort. Of course he was a stranger, calling at a late-night hour, but he thinks she is dumb for not wanting to meet that night. She offers a meeting the following day, but he’s an absolute moron, so he hangs up on her.

After a failed attempt at an inappropriately assumed hook up, he goes downstairs in the hotel for some food. He runs into a group of MILF’s, flirts and dances with them, and feels he is “half in love” with one because she dances well. Recognizing him for the shmuck he is, the women ditch, leaving him holding the tab.

After this we just get more and more pathetic. Why? Not because he puts himself in pathetic situations, but because the decisions he makes in those situations make no sense. He goes to a Jazz club, runs into his older brothers former girlfriend, but lies about having to meet someone else rather than hang out with her and her new boyfriend. Upon returning to the hotel the Elevator Operator offers to hook Holden up with a five-dollar hooker. Obviously this peckerhead is not having luck getting tail any other way, so he agrees.

So Sunny, the harlot, arrives at his room. She dispenses all formality and lets her dress hit the floor immediately. This makes Holden feel “peculiar”. At this point one must wonder about his sexual orientation, but I digress. So rather than getting to that ass he decides he should make conversation. Rather than get his rocks off with a sexy young whore, he makes up a falsehood about a back surgery, and says he is unable to perform. She gives her best attempt at seducing him, but to no avail. She is sent on her way with
the five-dollars, and he tucks what little tail he has between his legs. It seems like he will get to suffer in his own patheticness, but no, not yet. Now Sunny Returns, with her pimp, who demands five more dollars out of Caulfield. Why? Well, because he is obviously an enormous minge ready to be taken advantage of. A quick ninja-pimp jab to the stomach and Holden gives up the cash.

Let’s see if we can speed this review up, I think you are already getting the impression here. What other dumb-shit decisions can he manage to make?

He set up a date with Sally, a girl he has dated previously. Prior to meeting up with her, he decides to go see his little sister. He is told she’s at the museum, so he travels all the way over there. However, going in proves to make too-much-fucking-sense, so he gets back into a cab to meet up with his date. They see a play, and Sally bumps into a boy she knows. Holden is annoyed by their innocent chatter. What an insecure prick.

Sally and Holden go ice-skating, but they are both bad at that, so they grab a table. Here he decides the two of them should run away and live in a cabin. This was not pre-planned, just some stupid shit he spews out. When she calls him on his shit for being a dolt, he laughs at her, causing her to leave. I don’t think I’ve seen one character in a book ever be left holding his dick in his hand so many times.

Calling up an old school friend, he arranges to meet at a bar. Things seem like they might go alright, until Holden starts making remarks about homosexuals, and the guys Chinese girlfriend. So he’s ditched by yet another person, and stays in the bar drinking.

What can a bafoon like Caulfield do while drunk? He calls Sally up to yammer about some Christmas Eve plans. Goes to central park to find where the ducks go in the winter (he had annoyed at least two taxi drivers earlier in the story asking them to take him there). So being freezing cold in the winter, and drunk, he decides to break into his own parents place to see his sister. He admits to her he was kicked out of school, to which she got angry. This little girl has about forty-eleven times more sense than her older brother. She accuses him of not liking anything. At this point we are told why the damn-shit this book is called, Catcher In The Rye. I’ll save that for you if you ever do wish to read it for yourself (god help you), but not surprisingly it relates to a fantasy of Holden’s which is only his misremembering of a poem. He can’t even get his own dreams right!

Almost done, I swear! Oh, come on, keep reading. This is much more bereft than that steaming pile of book Salinger wrote. You can do it, I have faith in you!

Alright, so he can’t tell his parents yet that he is in town because he wants to further delay facing reality. He calls up a former English teacher, and ends up staying the night on the couch at his place. When he woke up Mr. Antolini, the English teacher, is stroking his forehead and being fatherly. What does asshat Caulfield do? He thinks this is a homosexual flirtation, so he gets out of there as soon as he can.

He goes to his sisters school and tells her in a note that he is running away for good. She meets him later at the museum and, with packed bags, tells him she is going with him. After some anger and her not speaking to him, he knows she will not back down. So he takes her to a park and buys her a carousel ride. Here we finally see that Holden has quite an affection for his little sister. He thinks everything and everyone else is “phony” and he “hates” it, but he nearly comes to tears watching her riding around the carousel.

How does Salinger end the book? Holden goes home and is “sick”. He has plans to go to yet another school in the fall. And for the first time we see him have cautious optimism for his future. It’s here that I think Salinger is as wishy-washy as Holden is. Sure the kid goes through some crap, but nowhere in the story does he undergo a believable life changing event. Now suddenly he gives two shits? Not buying it. And not understanding at all why this is one of the most popular books of all time.

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