I’ve just learned that J.D. Salinger has died. I’ve read Nine Stories and Franny and Zooey. But my favorite is, of course, The Catcher in the Rye. It was recommended to me by Dr. Duffy, one of my therapists, when I was in my early twenties. I snubbed it, because it was about a teenager. Dr. Duffy agreed, but said I ought to read it anyway, since I had practically missed my teenage years, and was still so much like a teenager.
Almost twenty years later, I bought The Catcher in the Rye, and read it. And I did indeed regret that I hadn’t read it in my twenties. Second only to The Friar’s Club Encyclopedia of Jokes, it is the funniest book I’ve ever read! In fact, I had difficulty putting it down, before finishing–which is very unusual for me. And maybe it was better that I read it as an older adult. Peers of mine say they read it in high school, and found it depressing. I can understand why. The Catcher in the Rye is not really a kid’s book. Kids take it too seriously, because they take themselves too seriously. As a grownup, I can relate to Holden Caulfield’s teenage experiences more objectively. In other words, I am aware that such troubles as his are temporary, while a teenager might see them as permanent.
I’m grateful to Mr. Salinger for his books–especially The Catcher in the Rye. My last post was about legacy, and his is an example of a most generous legacy. Even in my late thirties, I found The Catcher in the Rye therapeutic reading, and will probably find it even more therapeutic the next time I read it. If you’ve never read The Catcher in the Rye, I hope you will. And it’s never too late–the older you are, the better!