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J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, Aging Gracelessly
Washington Post ^ | October 19, 2004 | JONATHAN YARDLEY

Posted on 10/23/2004 6:55:30 AM PDT by jalisco555

Precisely how old I was when I first read "The Catcher in the Rye," I cannot recall. When it was published, in 1951, I was 12 years old, and thus may have been a trifle young for it. Within the next two or three years, though, I was on a forced march through a couple of schools similar to Pencey Prep, from which J.D. Salinger's 16-year-old protagonist Holden Caulfield is dismissed as the novel begins, and I was an unhappy camper; what I had heard about "The Catcher in the Rye" surely convinced me that Caulfield was a kindred spirit.

By then "The Catcher in the Rye" was already well on the way to the status it has long enjoyed as an essential document of American adolescence -- the novel that every high school English teacher reflexively puts on every summer reading list -- but I couldn't see what all the excitement was about. I shared Caulfield's contempt for "phonies" as well as his sense of being different and his loneliness, but he seemed to me just about as phony as those he criticized as well as an unregenerate whiner and egotist. It was easy enough to identify with his adolescent angst, but his puerile attitudinizing was something else altogether.

That was then. This is half a century later. "The Catcher in the Rye" is now, you'll be told just about anywhere you ask, an "American classic," right up there with the book that was published the following year, Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." They are two of the most durable and beloved books in American literature and, by any reasonable critical standard, two of the worst. Rereading "The Catcher in the Rye" after all those years was almost literally a painful experience.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: awfulbooks; bookreview; catcherintherye; childabuse; hemmingway; salinger
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To: Mr Ramsbotham
To my way of thinking, the dream of adolescence is, and always has been, to enjoy all the adult pleasures without any of the adult responsibilities.

Hell man, that's my dream, and I'm 41 years old!! My problem is that my children keep jarring me rudely from that dream.

101 posted on 10/23/2004 11:28:58 AM PDT by Melas
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To: Jakarta ex-pat
James Michener

I read almost nothing but sci-fi till I was in my mid teens. I've flipped through a number of Michner's works on rainy weekend afternoons. But just a few years ago I picked up Fires of Spring and was blown away. So thoroughly removed from the rest of his stuff. The whole matter of just how "autobiographical" it really was, was the $64,000 dollar question. I know he several times referred to himself in interviews as a "foundling" which was old-timey code for illegitimate/left-on-the-church-doorstep.

Also, when I was a kid, I read Caravans after seeing the excreble Anthony Quinn/Michael Sarrazin movie version and found it quite educational.

There was also Leon Uris Exodus (the parental units had picked up a Mantovani album wherein he and his orchestra play the themes of early sixties movie classics with a bunch of other old records at a flea market) I couldn't get that main theme out of my head so I checked out the book. In retrospect, the prose was a little overwrought and I remain seriously uncomfortable with historical novels that mix fictional characters with real ones--telescope timelines, combine incidents, smooth over ugly spots, etc. but it did get me started on the Middle East. Leon Uris has been heard to lament that more people read his Trinity than all the other books on Ireland put together (a great favorite of IRA types).

102 posted on 10/23/2004 11:49:08 AM PDT by sinanju
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To: durasell; jalisco555
Fancy meeting you on a literature thread. 8~)

The sixties saw the simultaneous mass marketing of the "hep cat" and perceived disallusionment with the status quo.

I think that began in the 50's as the men who came home from WWII and Korea starting working in movies and TV.

The latter 60's were a direct result of the Pill, the Viet Nam War, and drugs.

I'm glad to see "Catcher in the Rye" receiving negative reviews. While the writing style is good, often close to poetic, the deeper implications of the book (especially when given to adolescents) are rancid -- that a 16-year-old cannot survive in society because it abandons him, sexualizes him (the advances of his homosexual teacher) and finally dumps him in a mental institution.

While this is a viable cautionary tale for parents not to ignore their kids, it's a terrible book to give to impressionable 14-year-olds who will identify with Holden's schizophrenia.

I started questioning this book for students when my H.S. freshman son had to read "The Collector." A competently-written, but lurid and grotesque book. To what end? To tell kids we are all held captive to a depraved world?

They can get that from "Will & Grace."

103 posted on 10/23/2004 12:02:25 PM PDT by Dr. Eckleburg (John Kerry is a GirlyManchurian Candidate.)
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To: LadyDoc

Based on the fact Hinckley had it on him when he shot Reagan.

104 posted on 10/23/2004 12:05:26 PM PDT by Dr. Eckleburg (John Kerry is a GirlyManchurian Candidate.)
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To: jalisco555
There is actually a great body of American and English literature out there (I lump the two together). Pity that the schools keep pushing the worst ones on students - turning many of them off to reading forever. I found it difficult to slog through Catcher In The Rye also and I will forever associate the book with the loser that shot John Lennon.

Some of my favorite English literature is Lord Of The Flies by William Goulding and just about everything by J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Dickens. Some of my favorite American literature was written by John Updike, Jack London and Mark Twain. I say, bring back Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to our schools! Of course, the politically correct teacher's unions will have nothing to do with that.

105 posted on 10/23/2004 12:08:14 PM PDT by SamAdams76 (Slamma-Lamma...Ding Dong! (Red Sox Win The Pennant!))
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To: sharktrager
Reading Moby Dick was almost like reading two books at the same time. It was as though Melville wrote a book about a man aboard a whaling vessel, chasing the white whale that had taken the leg of the singleminded Captain Ahab; and another containing all the factua concerning whaling - the species, methods of tracking and hunting whales, etc. One book was fiction, the other nonfiction. Then he took the books like two decks of cards and shuffled them together to make one larger book.

I'll probably read it again someday, and if I do I'll consider skipping the passages that are nonfiction. As for the fiction, Moby Dick contains what must be one of the finest opening paragraphs in all of fiction:

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

106 posted on 10/23/2004 12:08:15 PM PDT by Tredge (Your Democratic Party - A Cult in Search of its Personality)
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To: SuziQ
I guess I'll have to read it to find out what all the fuss is about. Don't know how I got to age 51 without having done so, but I guess I was never in a 'rebellious' enough frame of mind.

You were lucky in your English teachers, I suspect. Not many people read these books by choice.

107 posted on 10/23/2004 12:32:56 PM PDT by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: hal_walker
'"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac. Great reading for one right out of college or smack in the middle of a midlife crisis.'

I thought (at the age of 18) that Jack Kerouac was the one to follow. Now at age 60, I wonder where my brain was.


108 posted on 10/23/2004 12:39:08 PM PDT by CDHart
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To: Melas
I guess I don't get it. I loved those books.

That's OK. The beauty of literature is that there is plenty for everybody, no matter what their tastes. Like a lot of people, apparently, I just don't think those books belong in a canon of required reading.

109 posted on 10/23/2004 12:39:34 PM PDT by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: SamAdams76
I say, bring back Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to our schools! Of course, the politically correct teacher's unions will have nothing to do with that.

The complete inability of modern English teachers to understant Huckeberry Finn is downright scandalous. They foolishly call the book rascist because Twain used the language of the day, without realizing that Jim is the hero and the book is an attack against rascism.

110 posted on 10/23/2004 12:43:16 PM PDT by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: durasell

My 10 year old son and I just read Old Man and the Sea out loud. I didn't expect much. Had read it many years ago. But I had unwittingly fallen prey to the anti-Hemingway literary propaganda (critics and biographers, I mean, not political) of the past 3 decades. It was astoundingly good. There's kind of a drippy social justice episode at the very end, when a rich lady notices the skeleton of the big marlin and thinks it's a shark, but it's only about 50 words long. I should have known better. The guy could really, really write; he was a groundbreaking voice in prose; and if he had his faults (and he did), he was still great.

111 posted on 10/23/2004 12:51:34 PM PDT by MoralSense
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To: hal_walker

I liked Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.


112 posted on 10/23/2004 1:03:45 PM PDT by Sir_Ed
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To: jalisco555

The entire pop culture has become Holden. Remeber when banana fish were considered a rare delicacy?

113 posted on 10/23/2004 1:05:03 PM PDT by monkey
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To: csvset

I had to do a nine month project on The Sound and the Fury in high school, and hated every minute of it. How can you write a term paper on a novel when the author himself admits it's a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing?

114 posted on 10/23/2004 1:16:30 PM PDT by Eepsy (Today's Read-Aloud: Les Miserables (well, not really, but it's my fave (unabridged)))
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To: jalisco555
You were lucky in your English teachers, I suspect.

Had an old lady English teacher in S. Mississippi in 69-70. She probably would have been mortified by "Catcher in the Rye", from what I've heard of it. We did a lot of 18th and 19th century lit, but Steinbeck and Hemingway were about as 'current' as we got.

115 posted on 10/23/2004 6:50:47 PM PDT by SuziQ (Bush in 2004-Because we MUST!!!)
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To: Norman Conquest

My thoughts exactly for the last 10 months.

116 posted on 10/23/2004 6:59:20 PM PDT by Oystir
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To: Dr. Eckleburg

Holy crap! Some english teacher assigned the Collector!?!
Knowles isn't as bad as that one book -- i.e. the Magus, French Lt's Woman, etc. etc. (also lurid etc.) but kinda interesting. But it's not a high school book. Go and beat that teacher with a stick immediately!

To all -- sorry had to run out on errands. No opportunity to answer all the responses...

117 posted on 10/23/2004 7:42:34 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: GoLightly

I was interested in why Holly would be quoting Neitchez and not the Bonwitt Teller Fall Season Catalogue.

118 posted on 10/23/2004 7:48:59 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: jalisco555

Catcher in the Rye was quite simply a yawner and a waste of time.

119 posted on 10/23/2004 7:51:39 PM PDT by Boiler Plate
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To: jalisco555

They won't bring back HF and other classics because they feel they have to compete against TV, hip-hop music, and the internet. So they pander to the students by giving them crap. These kids are raised on a junk food diet of literature without ever tasting the gourmet stuff. Is it any wonder they don't read?

120 posted on 10/23/2004 7:57:16 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: jalisco555

J.D. Salinger should have restricted his writing to sh*t house walls. That's where it belonged in the first place.

121 posted on 10/23/2004 7:58:22 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: nothingnew
My ninth grade english teacher had us read Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.......if I ever run across her I'll slap her silly.

You should kiss her. She could have made you read Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles...*shudder*

Thank God I can choose what I teach in Brit Lit! Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, etc. That's real literature!

122 posted on 10/23/2004 8:19:41 PM PDT by Charles H. (The_r0nin) (Still teaching... or a reasonable facsimile thereof...)
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To: durasell

Never, either. I selected the handle from an old memory of the sound of the name & a vague impression left over from seeing the movie when I was too young to remember much about it. Holly's name trips off of the tongue so delightfully, does it not? Still, she is a Holiday, while I am not.

123 posted on 10/23/2004 10:29:22 PM PDT by GoLightly (If it doesn't kill ya, it makes ya stronger.)
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To: GoLightly

The movie was a love story. The book was a tragedy. Holly was written as a tragic figure. And in ny event, Bonwitt Teller is long out of business.

124 posted on 10/24/2004 7:36:55 AM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: IronJack
I know for a fact that some English teachers of American lit choose Old Man and the Sea and Catcher in the Rye because they themselves have read them in the past and thus these novels are familiar and easy to teach AND because their students will be more inclined to read these SHORT novels.

(-former English teacher of British lit)

125 posted on 10/24/2004 7:54:45 AM PDT by Carolinamom (John & Liz Edwards: trash w/cash)
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To: durasell
The movie was a love story.

So they say. I caught a small portion of the movie shortly after I selected the handle. IMO, even the movie could not hide the tragedy. About all I could see was a shallow, empty existence. Maybe if I had watched the whole thing, I would have gotten a different impression.

The book was a tragedy. Holly was written as a tragic figure.

I guess because of "In Cold Blood", I always thought Capote's work was grim & dark. It got great reviews, so I picked it up & began reading it, but couldn't force myself through it. Add in his media appearances, they left me with the feeling that he was a bit creepy. I was surprised to find out he'd written "Breakfast at Tiffany's", as again, it was billed as such a wonderful love story.

Bonwitt Teller is long out of business.

I didn't know that, but I'm far from NY. I'm just a small town gal & not into shopping anyway. LOL

126 posted on 10/24/2004 5:10:02 PM PDT by GoLightly (If it doesn't kill ya, it makes ya stronger.)
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To: GoLightly

Holly's existance not so shallow as may first be assumed.

Remember, Capote, in spite of everything, was a small town Southern guy.

And In Cold Blood was a breakthrough book. Nobody had ever written a murder story like that before, that is, using the novelist's tools of the trade. Norman Mailer called it the product of a bankrupt imagination, then copied the exact same technique twenty years later with Executioner's Song, but did a lousy job of it.

In Cold Blood Bonus Trivia: Capote spent months in Kansas interviewing everyone involved. However, when he sensed hostility regarding his "lifestyle," he called his childhood/life long friend, Harper Lee (author of To Kill a Mockingbird) who promptly got on a train for Kansas with her father's old .45 and acted as his bodyguard for the duration of the interviewing process.

127 posted on 10/24/2004 5:35:52 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: LadyDoc
BTW: Wasn't Catcher in the Rye the book in Conspiracy theory,


128 posted on 10/24/2004 5:43:02 PM PDT by Tribune7
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To: durasell

Regarding Holly, the first term that came to mind was brittle, defined in the sense of brittle laugher. When I say shallow, it's not the fluffy headed type of shallow, where there is no knowing any better. It's where you understand greater meanings, yet do not persue them. You attempt of to fill the emptiness with busyness, meaningless doings.

I'm sure "In Cold Blood" is a great read for many people. Delving into difficult, dark subjects is in some ways necessary, for some, for others...

Maybe I'm strange, but I mull & have for as long as I can remember. Writing my response to you brought another murder back into my mind, one that happened around the same time as Capote's book was published. The adults didn't talk about it around children, but you'd catch them talking about it with each other in hushed tones. I grew up in a small town & young women were just not found dead in a pool of their own blood, with over 30 stab wounds, not in small town, middle America. Diane had been a neighbor & my favorite babysitter when I was younger. Her murder has never been solved.

Anyway, I try to be careful about the kinds of things I bring into my psyche to mull about.

Your bonus trivia, LOL Yes, I can see that!

129 posted on 10/24/2004 7:10:00 PM PDT by GoLightly (If it doesn't kill ya, it makes ya stronger.)
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To: GoLightly

Holly was the type of character you can trace back to Becky Sharp (Thackery's Vanity Fair) etc.

And yeah, Capote was somewhat fascinated by the dark side of life, which he eventually fell into. I'd argue that he more or less squandered his talent, which was sizeable. Too many parties, too many drugs, too many wasted days yakking with rich women.

Bonus Capote Material (Warning: somewhat racey): Capote never went to college. Rather, he took a job in the mail room of The New Yorker Magazine. The story circulates, which he never denied, that one of his jobs was going across the street to a hotel where humorist/cartoonist James Thurber would meet his mistress. Thurber, who was by then almost blind, would have young Truman help him dress for his return to the office. Although Thurber's wife would dress him in the morning and undress him at night, vanity prevented asking his mistress to help. Unhappy with his assignment and ever the moralist, Truman turned the old man's socks inside out, so that his wife would be sure to notice when she helped undress him at night.

One of those stories that is repeated so often that it's almost as good as true.

130 posted on 10/24/2004 7:25:18 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: SuziQ

I loved "Catcher" when I read it at age 14. Don't know if I'd still like it. Dad was in the IV infantry division in Europe with Salinger during WWII and actually knew the guy. By the time the IV got from the beaches of Normandy to Germany they had suffered a casualty rate of over 200%. However, Dad said that Salinger was a real oddball.

I will say that my daughter recently read Catcher (high school assignment) and liked it a lot. She is a no nonsense, no frills, upbeat, happy kid, so that amounts to a recommendation, IMO.

As for Hemingway, I have always adored "The Old Man and the Sea" and don't get the scorn being heaped on it on this thread. Influence of PC, I guess. I understand that Hemingway was supposed to have been a jerk, but he certainly could write!

Some folks seem to want to call those whose literary taste differs from there own liberals. An unhealthy habit, I think.

131 posted on 10/24/2004 7:39:42 PM PDT by Sam Cree (Democrats are herd animals)
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To: durasell

Wow----I haven't heard anyone mention Stop-Time in ages!
I read it just when it came out, when was that,in '67?
It got lots of attention, first because of its literary quality, and secondarily because of the (then) novelty of such a young (and completely unknown)writer breaking into literature with what was basically an AUTOBIOGRAPHY, as if he were already famous. Conroy was somewhere in his early 30s at the time and eventually as you no doubt know ran the Iowa Writers Workshop for many many years, I think he just announced his intention to resign a few months ago, and a successor has been chosen.(Marilynne Robinson, another writer who has written very little) I know he had a second book but I can't remember whether it was anovel or stories, and it didn't get that much attention (too long a wait between books will queer a critic's enthusiasm.)

132 posted on 10/24/2004 7:53:42 PM PDT by willyboyishere
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To: willyboyishere
Conroy published Midair decades later, which was so-so then some stuff about Nantucket (not limericks!) a couple of other things I think. However, and most surprisingly, Stop Time really does hold up. If you're in the market for good books that have gone largely forgotten, try The Alexandria Quartet (Durrell) or Manhattan Transfer (Dos Passos. )
133 posted on 10/24/2004 8:00:19 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: rock58seg
I have to admit I bought Franny and Zooey at a used book sale but I've never been able to bring myself to read it. It's like John O'Hara. You read Appointment in Samarra and you think every O'Hara novel has to be great. Then you read Butterfield 8.

I don't understand the fascination with JD Salinger. Just let the guy fade away already.

134 posted on 10/24/2004 8:00:43 PM PDT by IronJack (R)
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To: IronJack

It's hard to say. I liked "Old Man and the Sea" but I really disliked "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Of course, I didn't like much Hemmingway anyway.

135 posted on 10/24/2004 8:02:54 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: IronJack

What was wrong with Butterfield 8? If you said, Rage to Live, I'd understand. But Butterfield 8?

136 posted on 10/24/2004 8:04:12 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: durasell
Everyone should travel across country by car at least once in their lives. They should be made to stop in small diners and cafes off the interstates and talk with people. I did it the first time many decades ago and the images are as fresh in my mind as if it were last month. It will also fill you with overwhelming love for the country and its people. The perjorative terms "fly over states" and "elites" would vanish from our national vocabulary.

You are so right! I've made the "off the interstates" a point all of my life. When I traveled overseas, I used the same principles. Yeah, check out the 'popular' spots but try the ones off of the beaten path. I can't even begin to describe the rewards of that philosophy. Sad to say, one of my ex-girlfriends lost me forever after wanting to go to the Orlando tourist traps instead of just 'exploring'. Oh, well....

137 posted on 10/24/2004 8:27:38 PM PDT by Looking4Truth (NEVER trust Muslims to keep their word.)
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To: durasell

That's right ,MIDAIR, couldn't remember the name. Of Dos Passos, I've only read USA and Three Soldiers, but nothing of Lawrence Durrell. His friend Henry Miller has given me as much pleasure as any other practitioner of fiction (though Miller was usually autobiographical) BLACK SPRING is unforgettable. Thinking about it some time ago, I realized that most of my favorite books ARE in fact basically autobiographies. The aforementioned Miller, Diary of a Madman by Strindberg, Because I was Flesh by Edward Dahlberg---this last one probably impressed me at the age of 21 or 22 as much as anything I've ever read. Here's another great American novel from about 1964: Richard Yates's REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, the first and best novel to anatomize the earliest generation to come of age after WW2(his own), settle in suburbia (Revolutionary Road is the name of the section of the development they live in), and lead rather unhappily conflicted lives of "quiet desperation". A GREAT NOVEL.
----BTW ---I noticed scrolling down this thread you mentioned Knowles as the author of THE COLLECTOR. It was Fowles. Didn't read the novel but the movie I remember as outstanding. Also I saw you mentioned Duke of Deception and Boy's Life by the Woolf brothers. Both fine books. Geoffrey is a friend of a writer friend of mine from the late 60s, who also has a coming of age novel that's good and worth reading, and basically is all about US in the late 60s early 70s---James Atlas, "The Great Pretender".

138 posted on 10/24/2004 9:18:00 PM PDT by willyboyishere
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To: willyboyishere

Ashamed to say, I haven't read Yates. One of the holes in my fiction education. However, I despise Henry Miller for reasons I don't quite understand. I read about three paragraphs of the guy and want to slap him silly. Durrell probably shouldn't be missed, though out of fashion. Also, if you're into honest writing, check out Jim Harrison, particularly his new memoir, Life on the Side. He was part of that whole montana group, including McGuane etc. And, he remains the only "celebrity" who has ever intimidated me.

139 posted on 10/24/2004 10:01:27 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: jalisco555
"Like most high school students I had these books inflicted on me and I've yet to forgive my teachers.

Our teacher made us read a WHOLE collection of Salinger stories: it was absolutely mind numbing rot. Also on our high school literary agenda was "Black Like Me" (guilt), "The Pearl" (if you ever strike it rich, it'll make you greedy and your life will turn to tragedy etc). And a collection of Edgar A. Poe (by the way, drugs are bad).

140 posted on 10/24/2004 10:17:01 PM PDT by two23
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To: durasell

I know lots of people have a BIG problem with Henry Miller,
men and women alike, and I can see their POV, since he was a non-romantic misogynistic sort, chauvinistic, user of women,etc. etc.
But for me his honesty is SO bracing, like Orwell's in DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON. Jim Harrison I know about, but haven't read. He probably made more money from Hollywood from that Brad Pitt movie than he got from his publishers ever.
But do try to read Yates---the most underrespected and underrated writer of his generation. He recently died, not terribly old, but a heavy drinker and smoker for decades, in and out of rehab, you know the story of so many writers.....
Miller's BLACK SPRING belongs in a very select class of barely disguisable autobiographical novels, like the ones I metioned, plus Genet's Thief's Journal. Denis Johnson is probably the best out there right now, and gets better and better know every year. ANGELS is a great book. Hope somebody makes it into a movie someday and does real justice to it. John Huston, where are you when we need you?

141 posted on 10/24/2004 10:22:56 PM PDT by willyboyishere
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To: willyboyishere

I actually liked the movie, Legends of the Fall. It was also the longest piece of fiction Esquire ever ran -- and that's when Esquire was Esquire. Orwell is very good, but misunderstood by the left who don't seem to realize he was a rabidly anti-communist, though lived a spartan life. Not a big Denis Johnson fan. Read Jesus' Son and kinda yawned -- paging Dr. Benway, paging Dr. Benway.

142 posted on 10/24/2004 10:29:36 PM PDT by durasell (Friends are so alarming, My lover's never charming...)
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To: Boiler Plate

I liked Bob Uecker's version better, "Catcher in the Wry."

143 posted on 10/24/2004 10:40:51 PM PDT by flying Elvis
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To: jalisco555

I don't really know Yardley but I instinctively dislike him immensely; all this fuss about a boy (Holden - can you imagine, "Holden?") who can't even get a decent erection without blushing while, since his posturing and rambling and senseless dissembling Portnoy nearly matched the Apollo Missions' accomplishments on his bedroom ceiling (and failed only because of the limitations of gravity and his parents love of Victorian architecture) we're still to imagine that spermatamoza and Salmon share a common destiny?

144 posted on 10/24/2004 10:51:43 PM PDT by Old Professer (Fear is the fountain of hostility.)
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To: jalisco555
The mighty heavens have smote me; I failed the spell check test.


145 posted on 10/24/2004 10:54:45 PM PDT by Old Professer (Fear is the fountain of hostility.)
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To: jalisco555
Why is Holden Caulfield nearly universally seen as "a symbol of purity and sensitivity" (as "The Oxford Companion to American Literature" puts it) when he's merely self-regarding and callow?

I would submit it might well be because it was the first book printed in about the fifty years preceding it that made the word "callow" a household term; I believe the author of this piece cleverly salted this peppery trail with this tidbit to see who suffered to the end of this tiresome and dreary cage-liner.

I have a love of the written word, the turn of a deft phrase, the excitement of being struck blindside by the twist upon the unsuspecting tongue but I do not parade in public my naked desperation to chase a long-departed train.

146 posted on 10/24/2004 11:06:51 PM PDT by Old Professer (Fear is the fountain of hostility.)
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To: IronJack

Well,isn't most of yesterday just unfinished tomorrows?

147 posted on 10/24/2004 11:10:17 PM PDT by Old Professer (Fear is the fountain of hostility.)
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To: IronJack
I am a thief of the highest order and from myself I freely steal, henceforth (until the muse moves me), my tagline shall be:

Isn't most of yesterday just an unfinished tomorrow?

148 posted on 10/24/2004 11:15:27 PM PDT by Old Professer (Isn't most of yesterday just an unfinished tomorrow?)
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To: TBarnett34

Whenever I hear something about J.D. Salinger, I think about FIELD OF DREAMS...the James Earl Jones character who is supposed to be a J.D. Salinger type who is pissed off because everyone blames him for hating their parents!

149 posted on 10/24/2004 11:18:10 PM PDT by Hildy (The really great men are always simple and true)
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To: jalisco555
Ah, what an interesting topic. I first read Catcher all of three years ago in my sophomore year of high school. I remember being struck most by the whole concept of this teenager completely slipping out of his environment, his role as a student at some private boarding school, and heading over to New York City to wander around for a while as if it were a "vacation." Admittedly I was at first sympathetic, even taken, with Holden's whole "philosophy" of criticizing every "phony" he came into contact with (although I do remember him being a gentleman to a group of nuns at one point, or something to that effect). But in some of the retrospective looks I've taken since maturing, I'd hope, over the years, I think it's pretty clear that Holden was intended as a look at the hypocrisy of adolescents. All the angst and projection is meant to be seen as a phase of sorts, one brought on by the transition from a childish outlook to a mature one on the world. Unfortunately too many people - including more adults than you'd expect - seem to ignore this and see Holden as some sort of brave dissenter decrying the hypocrisies of society, etc. I hold, conceding to not know much about the author, that it was Salinger's intention for Holden to be the most hypocritical of all. But, hey, I thought it was a good enough book, just that people take the wrong message and run away with it.

And yeah, take my word for it as I just left the public high school system behind, there is definitely some sort of concerted effort, literariture-wise, to canonize crap. Don't get me wrong, some of the required reading was good - Golding's Lord of the Flies, Huxley's Brave New World, O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods (a novel about a mentally disturbed Vietnam vet who runs for political office but loses in a landslide when it's revealed that he took part in the My Lai massacre... hmm... if only), Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, both of which were a lot better than I ever expected, and some others. But then there were some real stinkers too. Most notably Chopin's The Awakening, Morrison's The Bluest Eye, and The Bad Seed, the author of which I can't bother to remember. Also noteworthy was A Prayer for Owen Meany which, while pretty good at times, kept having the narrative jump into the future at random intervals so the protagonist could whine for 3-4 pages about how much he hated Ronald Reagan, all completely out of context. Pretty poor writing. There was also a list of books to choose from for summer reading one year, and every single book on the list, no matter which you picked, revolved entirely around the theme of how miserable life in America is for minorities. Smells like PC agenda...

And that's about a wrap. No Hemingway, no Mark Twain, not even Tolkien. I found it much more useful to circumvent the high school "canon" and read some things on my own. I'd be willing to wager I've gotten more out of Burgess's Clockwork Orange, the "mature" writings of C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters, Till We Have Faces), Homer's Odyssey, and Plato and Aristotle than I had in four years of high school required reading. They weren't all stinkers, but there was definitely the presence of a PC/liberal-driven agenda.
150 posted on 10/24/2004 11:48:00 PM PDT by Matt32
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