BBW: The Catcher in the Rye

Today, I’m happy to welcome author Kathleen Peacock to my blog to talk about The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

The Catcher in the Rye has been in the top ten challenged books of 2001 (#6), 2005 (#3) and 2009 (#6). It came in at #10 in the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books, 1990-1999 list, and #19 in the 100 Mst Frequently Challenged Books, 2000-2009 list. J. D. Salinger is also one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century. The most frequent reasons for the challenges to The Catcher in the Rye? Offensive language, unsuited to age group and sexual content.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

So, without further ado, here’s Kathleen!

“I’m going to read Catcher in the Rye.”

I swivel in my chair and regard my co-worker (CW) over the top of my glasses. “You’ve never read it?”

The question isn’t meant to be snobbish—though I suspect it comes out that way. I haven’t read Catcher, either. I’ve thought about it, even gone so far as to flip through it and walk towards the bookstore register, but those brief thirty-second glimpses of Holden Caulfield have always been enough to convince me that I can’t spend two-hundred-and-fourteen pages with him.

It’s a decade old opinion and not one I plan to part with, but, as the day wears on, as I follow CW to two bookstores in lieu of coffee breaks (neither of which has a copy), his enthusiasm starts to be infectious. Like a virus, it keeps slipping past my defences until, a day later, I find myself buying a copy at the big bookstore across town.

The rationale? I’ll read it and CW can borrow it when I’m done. I’ll hate it—I just know I will—but at least I’ll be able to say I’ve read the thing.

Five-pages in, maybe less, and I’m in love. Yeah, Holden is arrogant and self-absorbed and quite possibly a liar, but damn it if I don’t like him and if I don’t fall head over heels for the prose. I read the book in stolen snatches—waiting for the bus, eating a sandwich, standing in line at the coffee shop—and these brief interludes leave me dizzy and shaken and a little brain-tumbled.

At lunch, on Sunday, the waiter quietly sets down my food and refills my drink and, when I go to leave asks, “Is this your first time? It is, isn’t it?”

Seeing my confusion, he gestures at the book in my hand. “Catcher in the Rye. Is this the first time you’ve read it? You looked…like you were being completely sucked in.” He goes on to talk about how it’s one of his favourite books—one of the most incredible books he’s ever read—and how he’s never gotten it out of his system.

The restaurant is pretty much deserted, so I loiter and we chat and I leave with two thoughts swirling in my head.

1. That I was judging a book based on a handful of lines without giving it a chance. That’s not all that different than people who challenge books based on relayed words or scenes. Sure, I wasn’t trying to force my opinion on others, but I still should have at least tried—really tried—to read Catcher before forming an opinion. If I had, I would have discovered a book that I truly love much earlier.

2. That great books are viral. They spread from person to person. I might not have caved in and tried Catcher in the Rye had it not been for CW’s sudden determination. And there was something genuinely touching about waiter-guy’s (we never did exchange names) very obvious love for a book that changed his life. That’s what book banners fear the most, I think, the power of a book or a character or an idea to resonate and spread like fire or an infection—to rage out of control. Because, let’s face it, no matter how many times it’s been challenged, no one has ever been able to put out the fire that is Catcher in the Rye.

Kathleen Peacock
Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Thank you so much Kathleen! I might just have to go read The Catcher in the Rye now 😀

Advertisements

One thought on “BBW: The Catcher in the Rye

  1. Do you know that mark chapman was sitting on the curb outside the Dakota reading catcher in the rye when he was arrested for shooting John Lennon!!

Comments are closed.