A day and a night in the life of an adolescent in the midst of a nervous breakdown is brought to life in this classic novel.
Its publication in 1951 caused a storm of protest due to the strong themes on offer and Salinger goes where Norman Mailer feared to tread by use of the f word in its un edited glory. THREE times!
But is the exploration of teenage angst that brought the wrath of Middle America alive as Holden Caulfield, having been expelled yet again from Private School, goes on a bender involving whisky, girls, clubs, an encounter with a hooker and her pimp, plus (possibly) being goosed by a former male teacher whilst asleep on his couch, and during this he gives us a cynical view of humanity in general, and exactly what he would like to do to those whom he considers to be “phonies”, often very violent imagery being deployed.
For the time Salinger’s book was very cutting edge and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in literature, especially with the looseness of the syntax although the influence of F. Scott Fitzgerald is apparent in the way the author deals with feelings.
As a novel The Catcher in the Rye is an excellent read and it’s no wonder that it has attracted celebrity nutters such as Mark Chapman and would be Reagan assassin John Hinckley due to its strong theme of alienation and feeling completely alone with only destructive emotions for company.