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.
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)
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 ...
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)...