“Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddamn cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”
– The Catcher in the Rye
Through a weird series of events, having to do with some silly quiz a friend and I took online that put its results in our various Twitter streams, both of us were compared to J.D. Salinger. My friend wasn’t familiar with Salinger, and I was, but only through:
The fact that Salinger died this year
…so I had to look him up to make sure I was getting the details right. Which made me revisit him, the author, as a person. Someone who, when he made it big, totally shunned his fame and turned his back on it. Here I am pushing fifty, having written most of my life and never making it big, and then there’s this guy who made it big and I learn that was the last thing he wanted.
So suddenly I’m interested in the guy.
I can only barely remember reading his one novel, The Catcher in the Rye, and like most I only read it because of a high school English teacher assigning it in class. Jeeze, what was I? Fourteen? There were no aliens, rocket ships, or time travel involved so reading it was a chore and I’m pretty sure I opted to go the Cliff’s Notes route.
So here it is 2010 and I decide, you know, maybe I should read this novel. Of course, me being who I am, I hopped on my Kindle and searched. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Salinger had never authorized it to be interpreted as a Hollywood movie, and it appears he didn’t feel it appropriate to be turned into an ebook, either. So I had to obtain it the old fashioned way, and order it on Amazon.com.
It cost 10¢ plus $3.99 shipping, and when it arrived I found it full of some high school girl’s handwriting.
(I’m actually having just as much fun reading this anonymous girl’s notes as I am reading the manuscript itself.)
One thing that struck me right away in revisiting this only dimly remembered novel is that it reads exactly like some well-educated kid’s blog. Not somewhat. Exactly. Holden Caulfield, if written today, would be a blogger. Totally and completely, and my apologies to J.D. Salinger who I know is spinning in his grave at this thought. But it’s true.
Go back and read this book. If you’re an avid blog reader or writer, especially if you’ve perused the wit and wisdom of places like LiveJoural, Blogger, or Xanga, you will recognize this writing style immediately.
It makes me wonder which is the chicken, and which is the egg. Do blogs read like this because most of us were forced to read Catcher in the Rye during our formative teen years? Or does it read like this because Salinger caught the tone of teen angst perfectly and completely?
Probably the latter, I expect. Still, it’s distracting, even as it makes the read enjoyable. And to my utter surprise, this book is worth revisiting, especially looking at it with a more mature eye.