The First 750 Words

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Review: The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

The review is at the bottom.

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reissue edition (January 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316769177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316769174


Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger’s New Yorker stories–particularly A Perfect Day for BananafishUncle Wiggily in ConnecticutThe Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and Squalor–will not be surprised by the fact that his first the_catcher_in_the_ryenovel is full of children. The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield.

Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

Buy the Book.


Ok, I can see why a teenager would like this book but why is this considered one of the all time best novels? It may have been fairly risque and experimental at the time but I don’t think it could get published today. Teen age angst.

Definitely worth reading as a teenager, I think. Coming to this as an adult, I guess I had higher expectations. One thing I will give the author is that he has perfect naming. The character names are so perfectly fitting.

Was it common back then for a teenager to travel by train and cab by themselves? To rent hotel rooms and hookers? The protagonist, Holden Caufield (I love that name), is supposed to be a teenager. Honestly for much of it he does whine like one. His thought processes are fully adult although emotionally stunted.

I’m glad I read it but I wouldn’t recommend it to an adult who had never read it. I would recommend it to a teen.

Buy the Book.



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