Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two Minutes Hate

Catcher in the Rye

I put off reading Catcher in the Rye for several years because I had heard so many people rave about it that I wanted to make sure that I had the proper time and situation to enjoy it. I had been really looking forward to reading Catcher since I was in about sixth grade. I tried to avoid as much knowledge as I could about the book beforehand (although being such a famous book, it is hard to avoid all), and I even switched humanities classes in college because it was assigned - which was definitely not the conditions in which I wanted to read it (it all worked out for the best though as I met my good friend db in my new humanities class).

About 10 years ago, I felt I was finally ready and took the plunge and read Catcher in the Rye. I thought it was horrible. It was such a disappointment...greatest American novel my ass! I really didn't like anything about it.

I am not sure if I went in with my expectations too high after listening to all the hype (most probably). Or if I no longer identified with the angst ridden teenager (possibly, but I thought I was still pretty full of angst and apathy). Whatever the cause, I did not like the book at all. To this day it still makes me angry. I have been thinking about giving it another shot without all the buildup in my mind...but as soon as I think about re-reading it, I hear someone say how "It is amazing! It is sooooo good," and all my distaste returns.

So why do people like this book? I have two hypotheses.

  • The first is that people are dumb and they just follow the herd. Someone tells them that this book is really good, so they think that they must also like it...because if they didn't like it, they must be missing something because everyone else likes it. This is also my justification for the popularity of Dan Brown'd The DaVinci Code.

  • My second hypothesis, involves people who don't read much. If you are a non-reader and are assigned this book in high school or college, I could see how this would be one of the first books that you liked. The characters speak and think closer to younger people than in most books and the story is not too complicated. I could see this being the first book that some people could relate to.

All in all, I just don't see the hype. I can't imagine this book influencing anyone to shoot someone else. It just was not that powerful to me. I was disappointed by the hype...it may be an OK book in all actuality, but I don't think it can ever be a great book in my mind. It is just not for me.

End Hate


Aetraxx said...

I agree. Although I would never dissuade somebody to read anything, I would say the Catcher (& DaVinci Code) is not a "must read." There are better books out there and the best book is one that speaks to you. Rarely is a great book assigned to a whole class...

kelly said...

Any question in the world concerning mankind can be explained by your first explanation:

The first is that people are dumb...

No expansion of that is necessary.

As for Catcher, I think that it's really about Holden not being able to accept that he's gay. Self loather.

Michael said...

Yes, I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading...everyone should read more. Just don't believe the hype (as Public Enemy warns).

Michael said...

"As for Catcher, I think that it's really about Holden not being able to accept that he's gay. Self loather."

Kind of like the Father Fucker we used to see at Java Joe's open mic night? Deal with it already! I miss doing that...we should start again.

Dixon said...

I read it in high school, and I think most teenage boys at that time have at least a little Holden Caufield in them. I had to read it a couple times, but I can't find too much fault in the story. A kid who's on a desperate search to find himself, and to find something worth living for. maybe not everyone's pick, but I still consider it one of my top 5 faves.


Dumb Person

Cameron Ted said...

I picked thi sup on our last trip to Mexico it was in teh "classics" section. I finished it and thought, "wow a book about a rich dick" I hated it. and I am with kelly, he was gay and couldn't deal.

I also got 20,000 leagues under the sea, like that a lot better.

kelly said...

Great book. Nemo would totally kick Caulfield's ass, too.