January 1, 1919 -- January 27, 2010
J.D. Salinger dead at age 91. Immediately, I think of Holden Caulfield... and of Bear and Chicha meeting him one day. How did I meet Salinger's most famous protagonist? I clearly remember browsing through National Bookstore's shelves seeing the book cover and wondering, what is a Catcher - in - the - Rye? Intrigued, I went through the first few pages and I was hooked. Finished the slim novel at home and I was blown away. Gusts-of-wind-coming-from-the-pages-blown-away! I was 14 or 15, going to a traditional catholic girl's school reading Sweet Dreams for fun and Shakespeare for homework, so yes it was that dramatic for me.
I read somewhere that kids these days don't relate to Holden as previous generations did. A 15-year-old New York kid who recently had to read Salinger for school said of Holden: "He should just shut up and take his Prozac." Snarky! Others think of him as a cynical teenager. My two cents: Not at all! He calls for a prostitute -- not for sex -- but because he has no one to talk to and hopes to find kindness in her. He wonders to no end where the ducks in Central Park go for the winter and if they'll be okay. He thinks the only job that would make him happy would be to be the catcher in the rye who saves the kids from falling off the cliff so they could safely play baseball....
Who's really cynical, the "phony" preppie kids or Holden? Is he a young man painfully longing for meaning? Hopelessly existential? Or just whiny and cynical? Do you feel a bit like him when you have to have boring conversations with people?
Thank you J.D. Salinger for giving us a chance to meet Holden Caulfield. Hopefully one day I have a non-boring conversation about him with my own kids. Thank you for blowing my mind. That day I read Catcher, for the first time, I could actually hear someone's voice jump-off the pages of a book. Rest in peace.