A 16-year old American boy tells what life is like for him at home and school, and reveals the workings of his own mind. What does a boy in his teens think and feel about his teachers, parents, friends and acquaintances?
The Catcher in the Rye is the ultimate novel for disaffected youth, but it's relevant to all ages. The story is told by Holden Caulfield, a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Throughout, Holden dissects the 'phony' aspects of society, and the 'phonies' themselves- the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection.Lazy in style, full of slang and swear words, it's a novel whose interest and appeal comes from its observations rather than its plot intrigues (in conventional terms, there is hardly any plot at all). Salinger's style creates an effect of conversation, it is as though Holden is speaking to you personally, as though you too have seen through the pretences of the American Dream and are growing up unable to see the point of living in, or contributing to, the society around you.
Jerome David Salinger, born New York City, Jan. 1, 1919, established his reputation on the basis of a single novel, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), whose principal character, Holden Caulfield, epitomized the growing pains of a generation of high school and college students. The public attention that followed the success of the book led Salinger to move from New York to the remote hills of Cornish, N.H. Before that he had published only a few short stories; one of them, A Perfect Day for Bananafish, which appeared in The New Yorker in 1949, introduced readers to Seymour Glass, a character who subsequently figured in Franny and Zooey (1961) and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter and Seymour- An Introduction (1963), Salinger's only other published books. Of his 35 published short stories, those which Salinger wishes to preserve are collected in Nine Stories (1953).
Like many teenagers, 16-year-old Holden Caulfield doesn't really know what he wants to do, although he is sure that he wants to avoid anything phony. First published in 1958, no novel betters Salinger's description of Holden's tortured adolescence as he comes to terms with the transition to adulthood and the onset of a nervous breakdown. It's the integrity of Holden's quest for meaning in his life that has made this book so enduringly popular with all ages. Its humour and deceptively light touch help too. This is the teenage novel. (Kirkus UK)
Short-listed for BBC Big Read Top 100 2003
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