So, I finally got to read The Catcher in the Rye. Considering that Sallinger lived less than an hour away from my place, it's surprising that it took me so long. Truth be told, it was not on my list until a few people mentioned some similarities to a character I hold dear.
Meet Holden Caulfield - hmm, let me start by saying that Holden is nothing like the character I hold dear. Holden is, nonetheless, a young man full of angst. Only the angst is completely and utterly useless. Holden lacks any direction and aspiration, and his existence is without a point.
Perhaps I'm looking at this book more critically than I look at some other books. Or, perhaps, Holden reminds me too much of the up-and-coming masses of pointless individuals roaming the streets and forums of today. A passing fad, a momentary distraction, and then it's back to me, me, me . . . the misunderstood, the victim, the . . . Whatever.
As a reader, I am pretty disappointed with Holden; and trust me when I say that I normally like challenging, unconventional characters.
As a writer, however, I have to look at Sallinger's approach. He did break away from the norm, and portrayed pointless angst quite well. But where Camus, Handke, or Hamsun succeeded in addressing larger issues in society with their angry characters, Sallinger falls short. He offers us a glimpse, but it's not a glimpse at any defining moment, it's just a glimpse at angst.
Perhaps I would have liked this book better had I read it twenty years ago, but it fails to tickle my current literary tastes