Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Catcher in the Rye -- J.D.Salinger

Remember when we were teenagers? Yea, that weird and awesome phase all throughout from 13 to 19 years. Embarrassing visions flooding memories now right.  We were the victims of ruthless, unforgiving hormones and bodily changes. We lived on the extremes, when things were either too bad or unbelievably awesome and drama dictated our lives. All would wish to push all those ‘erasable’ memories under the carpet. Who would want to pen down them instead! But J.D.Salinger did go down that lane and wrote a book a delightful book that deals with the famous ‘teenage angst’. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is an amalgamation of humour, satire, frustration, confusion, anger and ......

Holden Caulfield is fed up of his school(s) and being kicked out of them frequently.  And yet again, he’s kicked out of his school due to him failing in many subjects. While he’s figuring out how to break the bad news to his parents, he embarks a peculiar and amusing journey. Holden’s trying to pass a few days without breaking this news to his parents and stay in his hostel instead. But a fight with his room-mate and his foul temper made him just leave the hostel too. With whatever money he had left he decided to stay in a cheap hotel and have fun doing random things before he goes home. His ‘fun’ unexpectedly included funny, scary, depressing, lonely moments. He meets old friends and new people during these days to pass his time but has one girl on his mind constantly. He wants to talk to her. Which he tries to do but what happens? (That's for you to find out..Duh!) He rubbed off on a wrong and rough note with almost everyone he met. His curiosity, his stupidity or sheer boredom led to a few unfavourable situations. As the days get fewer in number and it’s time to go home, he starts panicking about how his parents would handle the news, esp. his mother as she hadn’t recovered from a tragedy that struck the family in recent times. He makes a big decision and just wants his younger sister to know about. What’s the decision and does he succeed in doing that or does he end up facing his family’s wrath is for you folks to find out.

It’s a very cleverly written book. By the time you turn the second page, you’ll quit feeling like you’re reading a novel. It feels as if Holden is walking with or sitting across you and talking the entire time. It’s like he’s just pouring his heart out to you and you react by laughing at him, with him, empathising and sympathising with him. Don’t be surprised to find yourself talking the way he does for sometime once you finish reading the book. The language is kind of contagious and fun. J.D.Salinger has managed to create some humorous scenarios which might initially seem silly, but slow down and travel back to the time when you were a teenager. Step in those shoes for a while and that silliness doesn’t feel silly anymore. Read the book keeping in mind a teenager’s perspective on certain ( I repeat ‘certain’) things and you’ll find yourself agreeing with Holden most of the times or atleast defend his actions at times. Sure, not everything that is mentioned would be something everyone would relate too.  Few might find some content offensive. This book was controversial and banned in several schools due to the consistent use of the ‘F’ word and other expletives, and casual approach towards sexual topics, considering the protagonist is a minor. Arguing if it was appropriate to include such content with a teenage protagonist would be futile. It wasn’t like the author wanted to impose that all teenagers come with such package or all teenagers are like Holden. He mainly outlined the psychology,emotions and thoughts that rule, confuse and define any teenager. Instances where Holden expresses his dislike for certain people, their habits or certain norm (like it’s almost mandatory to say ‘pleased to meet you’ even if you don’t mean it) will certainly crack you up. Oops, that’s me talking like Holden!

I had a stupid smile the whole time reading this. It was like 'de-stress read’ for me. For all those who want a light read, it’s the perfect book. All those who think it’s a wrong portrayal of teenage, take it with a pinch of salt. Well, who knows you can compete with Holden with more funny, horrifying or embarrassing stories about yourself. (Do share if you do have any anecdotes of your childhood.) Just pick up this book and join Holden in his journey. It'll stay with you for a long time. That's assured.