Happy birthday, Holden.
July 16, 2001 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Happy birthday, Holden. Catcher in the Rye turns 50 years old today.
posted by honkzilla (31 comments total)
Wow. Fifty years of "Spot the Phony." What a fantastic book. Thanks for the link.
posted by ColdChef at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2001

The book which made me hate discussing symbolism in class, but made me finally enjoy reading.

Here's a link to a bunch of short stories by JD Salinger (300k zip) I downloaded a while back. Most of them are pretty good. I hope they're all legit.
posted by Mark at 2:09 PM on July 16, 2001

Aw, geez, George Will is gonna be pissed!
posted by hincandenza at 2:13 PM on July 16, 2001

What was the point of that Will article, anyway? i open my paper for a daily dose of politics, and get a pointless ramble about how much Catcher sucks.
What the hell's wrong with him? Is this the best journalism he can give?!
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:24 PM on July 16, 2001

Um, am I allowed to say that I haven't read it yet? That must win me big points at "Humiliation", yes?

(My best mate loaned me a copy about three years ago, and I've been, er, a bit busy. Its red Penguin spine is glaring at me right now, I tell you.)
posted by holgate at 2:39 PM on July 16, 2001

One of the coolest album covers I ever saw is this, where the booklet was designed to look just like the red edition of Catcher. It even says "To my mother" on the inside flap.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:49 PM on July 16, 2001

the book is $3 today only @ amazon.
posted by o2b at 2:52 PM on July 16, 2001

And to think I bought a copy of the book yesterday at B&N completely unaware. Of course, I buy a copy of that book every Sunday.....

Actually, I did honestly buy my first and only copy of that book yesterday, as soon as I am through with the Hobbit, it's on to Holden.
posted by remlapm at 3:01 PM on July 16, 2001

Of course, I buy a copy of that book every Sunday.....

When I lived in NYC years ago, I would pick up used copies whenever I came across them (which was quite often) and gave one to whomever would take it. I must have given away two dozen copies that year.

I still give a copy to my younger cousins when they turn 14.

It may be a cliche by now, but this book meant more to me than any other I've ever read. There are better-written books, more "important" themes to write about, but I have yet to find a protagonist as intriguing as the one you'll find in Catcher.

My cat, Holden, thinks so too.
posted by jpoulos at 3:15 PM on July 16, 2001

I am a college tutor. Apparently one of the ESL classes was teaching "Catcher in the Rye." A few students came by my desk and they told me were totally confused by the book. They couldn't believe that this was a popular American novel. They kept asking me why. I discussed the novel with them and pointed to particular scenes. At the end of the session they asked me when was the last time I read "Catcher in the Rye." I thought about it and realized it was six years ago. They were impressed by my memory, but I thought to myself "Oh dear, I really should read it again."

Happy Birthday Holden!
posted by miss-lapin at 3:26 PM on July 16, 2001 [1 favorite]

remlapm: what's weird is that I bought MY copy at B&N this weekend too!
posted by o2b at 3:40 PM on July 16, 2001

I have to agree with George Will. Holden is a simp...a prototype of today's slackers. Give me a hero anyday.
posted by davidmsc at 3:58 PM on July 16, 2001

Yeah, but Holden wasn't modeled after "today's slackers." That arguement goes nowhere. Also, I think the book was very well-written -- totally immersive. My favorite, to date.
posted by lizardboy at 4:09 PM on July 16, 2001

Um, lizardboy, that was my point exactly...today's slackers are modeled after Holden. The argument does, in fact, go somewhere. Holden begat the hippies who begat the yuppies who begat the grungers who begat the slackers. Downward-spiraling apathy...or at least passivity to the point of de facto apathy...where will it end?
posted by davidmsc at 4:18 PM on July 16, 2001

where will it end?

I was thinking the same thing about your self-righteousness.
posted by Optamystic at 4:30 PM on July 16, 2001

ummm, the grungers were the slackers (both gen-x).

and the hippies didn't beget the yuppies, the boomers begat the yuppies. the hippes begat the slackers and and the yuppies begat the yippies (gen-y).
posted by o2b at 4:34 PM on July 16, 2001

holden caulfield is a hero. he didn't, oh, say, invent a new form of steel (david, i know you sleep with ayn rand every night, don't even try to lie about it. from now on, i call you howard roark) but he rose above the frailty and perverse nature of those around him to try to find innocence and purity.

he was generous (gave to the nuns), chivalrous (didn't sleep with sunny), cared about his sister phoebe, had a conscience, tried to preserve the innocence of those around him (rubbing out all the fuck-yous) (he would have had a hell of a time on metafilter, eh?). his only transgression in that book is not trying hard enough. his heroic act, the thing that makes him stand out to me, is that he not only recognized all the insincerity and ugliness in the world, but that he also rejected it outright. that in and of itself is enough to make him a hero to me. he refused to accept that people are so mean to each other, that they lie and cheat and steal - that they corrupt innocence and hurt each other on purpose.

so because he didn't try as hard as he should have at school, he's worthless to you? he's dismissable because he doesn't set a success-driven example? fine. have your kids read the goddamn fountainhead. makes no difference to me. but when they get to adolescence and hit the Dark Ages, i guarantee you they will find more solace in holden than in howard.

the book isn't meant to be any sort of this-is-how-you-should-be manual. it's a novel. it's about how one young man deals with the realization that everything is false, that hardly anyone is really sincere, and that the world is a mighty icky place. everyone deals with it differently. a lot, a whole lot of people, are reassured and buoyed by this novel because it shows someone dealing with it without selling their soul to the goddamn phonies. he isn't bought out, his spirit isn't broken, and he keeps the righteous indignation that so often disappears when one gets used to injustice and ugliness.

so i say thank god for holden caulfield and goddamn all the rest.
posted by pikachulolita at 5:11 PM on July 16, 2001

o2b: wow do you have your subcultures and generations confused.
posted by jbelshaw at 5:44 PM on July 16, 2001

Yeah, but where does happen to the ducks in the winter.
posted by bilco at 6:17 PM on July 16, 2001

pikachulolita: will you marry me?
posted by jpoulos at 6:30 PM on July 16, 2001

george will is such a goddam phony. you can just tell by looking at him.
posted by muppetboy at 6:32 PM on July 16, 2001

i loved, loved, loved CitR when i first read it; it meant so much to me and suddenly i understood some things that i never really got before.

i read again last year and all i wanted to do was tell holden to buck up.

i still love it though, and i try to rub out metaphorical "fuck you"s everywhere i go.
posted by sugarfish at 7:35 PM on July 16, 2001

So, I am not sure if I remember correctly, did he ever get over that cold, or did he die?

I have that ugly-ass copy with the white cover by Little, Brown Books. I hated that there wasn't a nicer edition at B&N, but I got over that after seeing it in this.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 7:41 PM on July 16, 2001

jpoulos: well, my dance card is conspicuously empty... ^_^
posted by pikachulolita at 8:50 PM on July 16, 2001

pikachulolita: Hold your fire! I relent. First, you're right about my choice of :-). Second, it has been so long since I read CiTR that I have, indeed, forgotten many of the aspects of Holden that you mentioned. Just because I agreed with Will overall and found Holden to be lacking doesn't mean that I reject the novel & the protagonist wholly. I understand that not every novel must be "heroic" - and I do enjoy reading them, believe it or not. Your points are well taken, and I will obtain a copy of CiTR very soon and re-read it with the comments from this thread in mind. Yours truly, Howard.
posted by davidmsc at 9:05 PM on July 16, 2001

Sorry - bad edit: You're right about my choice of sleeping mates (Ayn).
posted by davidmsc at 9:05 PM on July 16, 2001

I think I was the only person in my 11th grade English class who didn't like Catcher. I remember my English teacher telling me that she hadn't liked it in high school either and then she read it later and changed her mind. Well, I finally got around to taking her advice 11 years later. I read it last summer, and she was right.

I also enjoyed The Fountainhead (is that allowed?). Maybe I'll put Ayn & J.D. in bed together tonight...see what happens ;-) She's been sleeping with david for too long anyway.
posted by witchstone at 8:49 AM on July 17, 2001

We actually did this when CitR turned 50, and I posted my thoughts here. Or, rather, I posted mostly John Guare's thoughts. But it's a wonderful quote regarding Holden from Guare's play Six Degrees of Separation.
posted by Skot at 9:37 AM on July 17, 2001

perhaps david can, then, shed some light on this vexing moral issue.
posted by pikachulolita at 5:10 PM on July 17, 2001

I'm freaking out here (ok maybe it's mostly the booze, but still), I've just realized that the call letters of my beloved university (of British Columbia) radio station were Rye-Catcheringly CiTR and if there was a reference there it's taken me 13 years to figure it out! Oh man, I suck for a smart guy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:32 AM on July 18, 2001

pikachulolita: Sick, sick, sick. But fascinating. ;-)

witchstone: Yes, it's allowed...just don't tell Mother MeFi.
posted by davidmsc at 6:14 AM on July 18, 2001

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