Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I managed not to read The Catcher in the Rye until age 38. I'm not sorry I read it while prepping for the Praxis II test, but I wasn't exactly blown away by the book. Don't get me wrong--I liked it fine--I respect Holden and his suspicions about phonies and his sorrow about lost innocence; I think the novel is sad and at times funny, and that it does for Manhattan socialites and prep school students what Babbit did for members of the middle class. But like many of the books routinely touted as one of "the greatest novels of all time," I found it a bit underwhelming. Of course I always get uncomfortable with such rankings anyway. I suppose it would be easy to rank The Catcher in the Rye as amongst the greatest novel of all time if you'd read say five novels, which is true of many teens.
I prefer Paul's Case by Willa Cather. Today Paul and Holden would be given IEP meetings and then dosed up with Ritalin.