MAC'S BACKS BOOK CLUB DISCUSSES THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
Mac's Backs Book Club discusses The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Salinger's birth.
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.
Jerome David Salinger was an American writer known for his widely read novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Following his early success publishing short stories and The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger led a very private life for more than a half-century. He published his final work in 1965, and gave his last interview in 1980.
“ ‘Some of my best friends are children,’ says Jerome David Salinger, 32. ‘In fact, all of my best friends are children.’ And Salinger has written short stories about his best friends with love, brilliance and 20-20 vision. In his tough-tender first novel, The Catcher in the Rye (a Book-of-the-Month Club midsummer choice), he charts the miseries and ecstasies of an adolescent rebel, and deals out some of the most acidly humorous deadpan satire since the late great Ring Lardner.“For U.S. readers, the prize catch in The Catcher in the Rye may well be Novelist Salinger himself. He can understand an adolescent mind without displaying one.” –TIME, July 16, 1951
“A young man possessed of a young man’s vigor and callowness and an old man’s jaundiced eye rip-snorts his way through this raucous novel and by turns delights, frightens, shocks you and leaves you close to the tears into which he himself bursts as the climax to his mad escapade. “He tells the story himself; tough and tender, frown and smile, bitter and sweet. It’s a sort of lost week end; it’s a boy who can’t go home again; he belongs to a lost generation and lives in a world he never made. It reminds us of significant conclusions reached by other writers in our time. But besides that, and despite your hoots of laughter at Holden’s indomitable speech, this is in essence the tragic story of a problem child, unless indeed it’s an indictment of a problem world. Month in, month out, novels don’t come much better.” –The Associated Press, July 29, 1951
We meet at Hunan on Coventry, just down the street from the bookstore.
The book is available at Mac's Backs or through our website, www.macsbacks.com, at the 20% book club discount.