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J.D Salinger had died

velveteer

Active Member
Shame, but he did make it to a grand old age. It will be interesting to see if his death leads to the release of any new manuscripts by his estate. RIP, JD!
 

andrew markwort

Active Member
I've got to say that personally I loathe Catcher in the Rye. I hate the spoilt brat of a central character who should have tried doing something constructive with his time rather than moping around whining. The obvious rejoinder is that I've missed the point, but I'd argue the exact opposite - I've seen through the 'I must have a voice' drivel to its solipsistic core. I'd argue that our current self-confessional culture with no idea of shame or responsibility has some of its strongest roots in that poisonous little book.

Let's look at the facts. Catcher in the Rye is a very short book that captured a certain mood at the time. After it, Salinger had several flops and then spent rest of life as a recluse, saying that showing any work to others ruined the creative process. To me this smacks of a mediocre writer who hit it lucky and then could never recapture his success before producing a pile of pretentious BS about the creative process in order to cover his own failure to write anything that was readable. My only regret is that he took up writing in the first place or that critics who should have known better didn't instantly drop CITR in the same pile of junk occupied by such learned tomes as Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and similar drivel that some American authors seem distressingly capable of writing.
 
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bosque

Distinguished Member
I've got to say that personally I loathe Catcher in the Rye. I hate the spoilt brat of a central character who should have tried doing something constructive with his time rather than moping around whining. The obvious rejoinder is that I've missed the point, but I'd argue the exact opposite - I've seen through the 'I must have a voice' drivel to its solipsistic core. I'd argue that our current self-confessional culture with no idea of shame or responsibility has some of its strongest roots in that poisonous little book.

Let's look at the facts. Catcher in the Rye is a very short book that captured a certain mood at the time. After it, Salinger had several flops and then spent rest of life as a recluse, saying that showing any work to others ruined the creative process. To me this smacks of a mediocre writer who hit it lucky and then could never recapture his success before producing a pile of pretentious BS about the creative process in order to cover his own failure to write anything that was readable. My only regret is that he took up writing in the first place or that critics who should have known better didn't instantly drop CITR in the same pile of junk occupied by such learned tomes as Jonathan Livinstone Seagull and similar drivel that American authors seem distressingly capable of writing.

Is that the most cynical post we will ever read on this board ? it reeks of a green-eyed hatred of American writing. The fact that the book still sells well 70 or so years after it was first published puts paid to "the capturing a mood at the time" garbage - and anybody with any taste for good writing knows how silly it is to claim that Salinger was a "mediocre" writer, his dialogue is still crystal clear and he never used a single word which wasn't needed.
 

andrew markwort

Active Member
Is that the most cynical post we will ever read on this board ? it reeks of a green-eyed hatred of American writing.

EDIT: rejoinder removed by me.

A milder response - no dislike of American literature was intended and sorry if you have gained that impression. I was directing my ire solely against Catcher in the Rye.
 
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Mark Botwright

Distinguished Member
Let's look at the facts. Catcher in the Rye is a very short book that captured a certain mood at the time. After it, Salinger had several flops and then spent rest of life as a recluse..

I'd argue that if it merely captured the mood at the time then it would fail to continue selling so well.

Also, which books are you considering flops and how do you define a flop? You make it sound as if his books after Rye didn't sell well (i believe they made the NY Times bestsellers list and certainly had more than a smattering of positive reviews) and he then went into hiding whereas most accept that he gradually withdrew over a period of years and was mainly out of the public eye years before his last two books were even published.
 
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Theydon Bois

Distinguished Member
Just keep it civil boys.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion as long as you dont resort to pettiness. Otherwise I will start with the infractions and lock the thread.
 

andrew markwort

Active Member
I'd argue that if it merely captured the mood at the time then it would fail to continue selling so well.

Also, which books are you considering flops and how do you define a flop? You make it sound as if his books after Rye didn't sell well (i believe they made the NY Times bestsellers list and certainly had more than a smattering of positive reviews)

Good point. However, I think it's just carried on selling well because it's a short book that people absent-mindedly recommend to angst-ridden teens and teachers set it because it contains issues of sex etc without ever being too explicit. I think the key point is that it's short, and accordingly, schools love it because even the relatively ungifted kids in the class can get through it. But good sales do not mean it's a good book (witness Dan Brown, Barbara Cartland et al).

It should be said that I'm not unique in my cordial loathing of Catcher and there's a lot of Salinger haters out there. This was the first page I found amongst hundreds on Google: Thick As Thieves: Why I Hate "The Catcher in the Rye" [warning - possibly not safe for work and don't go near it if you are offended by strong language].

As for the other books, they really didn't sell all that well. I know they briefly got on bestseller lists, but only I suspect because hardened fans of Catcher bought copies. I defy anyone to read Raise the Roofbeams and tell me with a straight face that it's worth reading. And before anyone says anything, yes, I've read it. I tried hard to like Salinger (I really did) before deciding his work was, well, phoney ...
 
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Mark Botwright

Distinguished Member
Good point. However, I think it's just carried on selling well because it's a short book that people absent-mindedly recommend to angst-ridden teens and teachers set it because it contains issues of sex etc without ever being too explicit. I think the key point is that it's short, and accordingly, schools love it because even the relatively ungifted kids in the class can get through it. But good sales do not mean it's a good book (witness Dan Brown, Barbara Cartland et al).

Fair point - i'd certainly be interested to know how much the school teaching bumps the sales of a book.

It should be said that I'm not unique in my cordial loathing of Catcher and there's a lot of Salinger haters out there. This was the first page I found amongst hundreds on Google: Thick As Thieves: Why I Hate "The Catcher in the Rye" [warning - possibly not safe for work and don't go near it if you are offended by strong language].

It definitely seems to have split opinions, at the time and now. It just seems that for every person who loathes it there are two more who like or even adore it. When it comes to American literature (particularly post war) it seems to be the relaxed style to prose which riles many, some seeing it as accessible and others as sloppy.

As for the other books, they really didn't sell all that well. I know they briefly got on bestseller lists, but only I suspect because hardened fans of Catcher bought copies. I defy anyone to read Raise the Roofbeams and tell me with a straight face that it's worth reading. And before anyone says anything, yes, I've read it. I tried hard to like Salinger (I really did) before deciding his work was, well, phoney ...

I'd still argue that several months in the bestsellers list and being among the top five bestselling books of the year can be considered successful sales figures.

I'm in between the two camps here, i like the writing style but just found the protagonist annoyingly self pitying rather than a rebel. I still think your assertion that Salinger should be disregarderd is a little harsh, though i understand why you came to those conclusions.
 

bosque

Distinguished Member
I defy anyone to read Raise the Roofbeams and tell me with a straight face that it's worth reading. And before anyone says anything, yes, I've read it. I tried hard to like Salinger (I really did)...

I read Raise the Roofbeams, Carpenter last year. The dialogue is as fresh now as I suspect it was when it was written (50 ? years ago) and it must be very rare for a book to be written in an immediately engaging, readable, fast-paced, thrilling manner about a few hours on a wedding day in which some of those attending get stuck in traffic. Salinger seems to me to be unquestionably the best prose-stylist in English of the 20th century and he had a heck of a lot of competition. It was a great pity he got caught up in eastern religious mumbo-jumbo which probably makes those 15 unpublished novels of his not as attractive as many people want them to be.
 

andrew markwort

Active Member
Salinger seems to me to be unquestionably the best prose-stylist in English of the 20th century

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn Waugh, Raymond Chandler, D.H. Lawrence and a cast of many many more all, I think, have stronger claims.
 

SOUNDSTYLE

Active Member
Anyone know if there is only one version of this book, and by that I mean is there a childrens and adult version?

I read it at school and wouldn't mind reading it again.
 

yatesDELTA

Active Member
Im pretty sure there is only one version :)
Markword, im reading Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby as part of a level english lit course now. Havn't found it compelling so far but it certainly does look interesting. Only two chapters in.
 

kav

Distinguished Member
Andrew - it sounds like you've forgotten what it's like to be a teenager. ;) Caulfield was a whingy, woe-is-me character, and that's why so many people of a certain age like the book - it's well-written and it speaks to them, they feel Holden's angst as if it were their own. It's easy to poo-poo the character from an adult's perspective as being a moany little brat who won't just get on with it, but to do so misses the point of the novel, IMO. Most teenagers feel, at least for a while, like the whole world is against them, nobody understands them, and so on. The Catcher in the Rye captures that feeling and distills it into something tangible, something that an adolescent can hold onto and say "he sees things like I do!". I believe that's why the novel endures to this day.
 

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