Wednesday, February 10, 2010
iReport book club re-reads Salinger

If you took a high school English class in the last half of the 20th century (or after), chances are you read "The Catcher in the Rye." And if you were like me, you were thrilled at all the teenage freedom and bad words and raw feeling in a classroom assignment.


After author J.D. Salinger died last month, we challenged the iReport community to give the book a fresh read and see how we -- most of us pretty well grown up by now -- liked it as adults.


I think iReport producer Katie Hawkins-Gaar said it best. When I asked her what she thought re-reading the book as an adult, she said as a teenager she'd wanted to hang out with Holden Caulfield, the troubled main character, but as an adult she wanted to hug him.


iReporter Lulis Leal (known by most everyone on this site as JoyfulGypsy) came to a similar conclusion, even though she'd hated him for his endless whining the first time through. "His compassion redeemed him for me," she said.


Matt Morone, aka TeacherMM84, had an interesting perspective: he'd just recently finished teaching "Catcher" to his high school students when Salinger died. He told us he always expects his students to split on the book, half swooning and half hating it. He told us the book has grown on him over the years as he's come to appreciate what he says is its message: "As Holden stands beside the carousel in the final scene of the novel, we know that amidst all the pain, there is a glimmer of hope."


Myself, I remember loving it the first time around, but mostly because my teacher said it was just awful. And it felt pretty good to call her a phony. Now that I think about it, that was probably her plan all along. Nice one, Mrs. Gilbert.


Thanks to everyone who read along. If you did, too, let us know what you thought in the comments.

February 11, 2010
Click to view JustPlainWil's profile

I wrote the following piece On Finding Salinger a few days after his death

I had absolutely nothing in common with Holden Caulfield when I was growing up but I read it five times before I was an adult. It certainly resonated with me. After I entered adulthood, I occasionally "...wondered what happened to Holden Caulfield?" Did he make it out of the sanitarium and his teenage years alive? I think that if Salinger had wanted us to know,he would've told us. He never did, of course. And with recluses...well, you never know.



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