Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forums

Media => Books => Topic started by: Arwen Evenstar on August 27, 2010, 11:09:38 PM

Title: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Arwen Evenstar on August 27, 2010, 11:09:38 PM
Does anyone else dislike this book as much as I do?
Here is my review of the book
"It reads like a  boring diary of a whinny teenager"
not very articulate, but oh well  ::)

So what are your opinions about this piece of shit book?
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: MountainManPan on August 27, 2010, 11:15:28 PM
I read it the past year on accounta the Salinger died. I thought it was kind of 'meh'.

"And you know what really grinds me gears....this

and this annoys me
and that is annoying
you know what really bugs me
so i went to the park
but it was dark
so i snuck home
and my sister said "YOU GOT KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL
then i danced with an ugly lady
and hired a hooker
but got punched
life sucks
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Arwen Evenstar on August 27, 2010, 11:19:21 PM
^ you just summarized the book
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Da5id on August 28, 2010, 02:12:54 AM
I thought it was good but nothing spectacular. The problem with this book is that it is built up as one of the greatest books ever written which is an impossible goal to meet. I have also found that most "classic" literature suffers from this same problem (e.g. Moby Dick or The collective works of Shakespeare). I am sure this problem also extends to film and music.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Bunsen on August 28, 2010, 02:15:55 AM
The problem with this book is that it is built up as one of the greatest books ever written which is an impossible goal to meet.

Yes.

I have also found that most "classic" literature suffers from this same problem (e.g. Moby Dick.)

God yes.

or the collective works of Shakespeare.

You shut your mouth, you $%&#@!!!
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Neon Genesis on August 28, 2010, 09:02:18 AM
So we should all stick to Ghost In The Shell's take on  it?
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: MountainManPan on August 28, 2010, 10:08:31 AM
What does Catcher in The Rye even mean?

Did you read the sequel, The Whistler In The Wheat Field?
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: MikeHz on August 28, 2010, 11:05:56 PM
I read it in high school, and failed to be impressed. I hate books about dull things happening to dull people. "It's SO like real life!" Maybe. But I actually live real life. I don't need to read fiction versions of it.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Henning on August 28, 2010, 11:50:40 PM
I enjoyed it. It's up there with my favorites.
I liked the conversational, unadorned style (which matches Holden's own "no phonies" philosophy), the "obsolete vernacular" (apologies Eli Cash), and the turns of phrase Holden would use over and over. In the end, the book made a memorable and REAL character out of him, one I wouldn't mind hanging out with (I guess I like whining about phonies and jocks, too), so it didn't matter that not much happened. The relationship with his little sister really gets me in the guts too. It's beautiful.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Henning on August 28, 2010, 11:59:41 PM
What does Catcher in The Rye even mean?



As Phoebe points out once in the book, the phrase "Catcher in the Rye" is Holden's mis-remembering of a Robert Burns poem.
Wherever it came from, he makes it into some abstract heroic ideal for himself in the following passage:


"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: KarenX on August 29, 2010, 12:44:40 AM
I had a much different reaction to that book when I read it as an adult than when I read it as a sixteen-year-old. I liked it both times, but there is a lot more to it when you aren't reading it as his peer. It is a terrible indictment of how lost a person can get inside adolescence and inside a family or social group, especially in the 1950s and 1960s among the privileged classes, and it makes--to me--the counterculture and all that hippies stuff and all that drug stuff that followed almost immediately after so much more understandable. If you read it with something like The Feminine Mystique and that expose' of newfangled suburbia, The Crack in the Picture Window, you'll practically thank the filthy hippies for their hard, hard work undermining American decency.

I don't think it's overrated at all. Franny & Zooey, though? I read it once as an adult for book club and I can't remember liking it much at all. I just had no patience for the characters. Nine Stories I remember less, and don't remember if I liked it or not.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Tatyana on August 29, 2010, 04:39:04 AM
I read it when I was about 8, I thought it was great at that age.

I don't think I will bother reading it again.

Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: hunter on August 29, 2010, 04:48:15 AM
I wonder if SuperFudge still holds up...
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Nacreous on August 29, 2010, 11:29:06 AM
Like almost everyone, I read it in high school.  It was part of a class project in English.  Two things stand out in my memory: my cute teacher's obvious infatuation with the book, and my impatience with the self centered main character. 

I'm interested enough by this thread to try it again, just to see how my old fart's impression will compare to my teenage one.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Ansalem on August 29, 2010, 11:59:24 AM
Like every other book report assignment I had in high school, I've never read it.  ;D
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: James on September 07, 2010, 07:10:26 AM
Read about half of it, put it down, don't think i'll ever pick it up again especially after reading this thread.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Felt Martin on September 21, 2010, 01:27:09 PM
I loved it.
It's difficult to judge but I think I would get even more out of it now despite being much older than Holden these days.

I don't know if this is true or not but it appears that more and more often now, people can't or don't separate a character from the work.

Holden can be extremely annoying and dislikable but the book can still be brilliant.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Joe B on September 21, 2010, 01:36:58 PM
It was the only reading for my winter session class that I didn't finish. Got about halfway through and went to sleep at a half-decent hour instead of finishing it.

Didn't sell it back, so I'll probably give it another go someday.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: ApplePieFromScratch on October 04, 2010, 05:42:01 AM
Why do the ducks fly south in the winter?
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Iconoclast on October 12, 2010, 10:01:23 PM
Does anyone else dislike this book as much as I do?
Here is my review of the book
"It reads like a  boring diary of a whinny teenager"
not very articulate, but oh well  ::)

So what are your opinions about this piece of shit book?
Seconded
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Hittman on October 13, 2010, 10:27:25 PM
I recall liking it when I was fourteen.  It was refreshing to see I wasn't the only screwed up teenager in the world.

No idea if I’d like it now, and no desire to find out. 
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: random poet on November 20, 2010, 01:34:53 AM
first of all, if you are badmouthing catcher, you are officially a punk. but it's ok; we can work on this. i'm going to try and get you to "get" this book.

catcher in the rye is overrated because it was hyped up to all kinds of extents. like how some people think the FBI and/or the CIA are tracking everyone who buys this book. that sort of stuff. in terms of quality, it is a very strong work and worth the appellation of "classic," clearly. but it's not actually salinger's best work. it just so happens that it is his most well-known, but really, franny & zooey is better (even "nine stories" would be better if it wasn't for that awful last short story of the bunch, "teddy"). in fact, in actual fact, franny & zooey is the definitive achievement of mankind. but we're not talking about f&z.

ok, back to catcher: sure, when people first read this book, when they are teenagers, they can identify with holden and how it sucks being a teenager. i'm not saying that's not what the book is about. but i think holden's story is also a way of illustrating some deeper point.

some people will tell you the book is about ducks. don't listen to them. the ducks are a symbol. (but not a metaphore.)

right, deeper point. yes. see, alienation and incomprehension in the face of the world are not only staples of angsty teenagers. the world is something alien to us. one is a mind inside a body (and yes, they are the same, i'm not saying i'm into dualism, but that's the way it feels to people), and everything else is ... you know, "not-self." one needs a way to interpret the world, to make sense of it, to see it through other people's eyes as a way of acknowledging that they are also, just like oneself, a mind, with its own consciousness and its own sort of method of apprehending reality. building such a model in one's own mind is a struggle, and i think holden is grasping at that process, but he's so forlorn and rejected at all turns that he is lacking the basic interactions a person has to go through to build an adult personality.

i guess maybe that is my very convoluted way of saying this is a coming-of-age story, except it's not! there is no coming of age in the story. it only alludes to it. these are just a series of disconnected events that feel real to the reader but also hollow, which makes one hope holden will catch a break. it's about empathy, but as exemplified in this one poor kid which nobody would ever imaging everything that's going on in his head.

i feel like i'm not being particularly eloquent, or even intelligible. this guy will do a far better job than i:
Catcher in the Rye, Part 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqfThmVIIAc#normal)
The Catcher in the Rye, Part 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUnQ-wOPGUE#normal)

do you see? do you see why this book is awesome? why it's taught in highschool alongside farenheit 451 and stuff? it's important.

but franny & zooey is far better. obviously.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Bunsen on November 21, 2010, 01:26:06 PM
If I want to read a hack coming-of-age story, I'll read one that's at least well-written.  Maybe Nersesian's The Fuck-Up.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: David "Stubb" Oswald on November 22, 2010, 12:04:05 AM

I have also found that most "classic" literature suffers from this same problem (e.g. Moby Dick.)

God yes.


Moby Dick was pure brilliance you philistines.  Why do you think my middle name on here is Stubb?
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: MountainManPan on November 22, 2010, 12:05:38 AM

I have also found that most "classic" literature suffers from this same problem (e.g. Moby Dick.)

REmember the cook on the boat?

God yes.


Moby Dick was pure brilliance you philistines.  Why do you think my middle name on here is Stubb?


Remember the cook on the boat? Man, that was soo racist.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Bunsen on November 22, 2010, 12:07:17 AM

I have also found that most "classic" literature suffers from this same problem (e.g. Moby Dick.)

God yes.


Moby Dick was pure brilliance you philistines.  Why do you think my middle name on here is Stubb?

Moby Dick was a 675 page extended metaphor that would have dragged on too long if it had been a sonnet instead.

It's fine, but a seminal text of the English language, it ain't.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: David "Stubb" Oswald on November 22, 2010, 12:14:16 AM
The problem with Moby dick, and I do admit there is one, is the middle of the book.  The first part introducing the characters and the hunt for Moby Dick was entertaining and well written.  Then there are several hundred pages of nothing happening, interseeded with irrevevant historical information on whaling that completely destroys the tempo of the book. 

The only part I liked about the middle was Melville's discussion on whether a whale is a fish or a mammal, which apparently was a topic of controversy at the time.  Melville beautifully lays out all the evidence supporting a whale being a mammal, mostly on the basis of comparative anatomy; and then concluded its a fish because it lives in water.

Then after struggling though the middle you come to the end, and the pace quickens, Ahab goes insane, only a few see it, and nature prevails over the insanity of man.  Ignoring the middle of the book, a paragon of English writing it is.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: MountainManPan on November 22, 2010, 12:16:23 AM
I have a strong affinity for the novel as well, mainly due merely to the fact that it takes place in and itself was written in Massachusetts.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Bunsen on November 22, 2010, 12:19:57 AM
The problem with Moby dick, and I do admit there is one, is the middle of the book.  The first part introducing the characters and the hunt for Moby Dick was entertaining and well written.  Then there are several hundred pages of nothing happening, interseeded with irrevevant historical information on whaling that completely destroys the tempo of the book. 

The only part I liked about the middle was Melville's discussion on whether a whale is a fish or a mammal, which apparently was a topic of controversy at the time.  Melville beautifully lays out all the evidence supporting a whale being a mammal, mostly on the basis of comparative anatomy; and then concluded its a fish because it lives in water.

Then after struggling though the middle you come to the end, and the pace quickens, Ahab goes insane, only a few see it, and nature prevails over the insanity of man.  Ignoring the middle of the book, a paragon of English writing it is.

So your argument is if it weren't absolute dreck and pablum for hundreds of pages on end, without rest or redeeming qualities, it wouldn't suck?

I guess that's true of most books.  Twilight: New Moon, the Great American Novel.

I have a strong affinity for the novel as well, mainly due merely to the fact that it takes place in and itself was written in Massachusetts.

So was Mitt Romney: The Man, His Values and His Vision.  What's your point?
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: MountainManPan on November 22, 2010, 12:22:57 AM
The problem with Moby dick, and I do admit there is one, is the middle of the book.  The first part introducing the characters and the hunt for Moby Dick was entertaining and well written.  Then there are several hundred pages of nothing happening, interseeded with irrevevant historical information on whaling that completely destroys the tempo of the book. 

The only part I liked about the middle was Melville's discussion on whether a whale is a fish or a mammal, which apparently was a topic of controversy at the time.  Melville beautifully lays out all the evidence supporting a whale being a mammal, mostly on the basis of comparative anatomy; and then concluded its a fish because it lives in water.

Then after struggling though the middle you come to the end, and the pace quickens, Ahab goes insane, only a few see it, and nature prevails over the insanity of man.  Ignoring the middle of the book, a paragon of English writing it is.

So your argument is if it weren't absolute dreck and pablum for hundreds of pages on end, without rest or redeeming qualities, it wouldn't suck?

I guess that's true of most books.  Twilight: New Moon, the Great American Novel.

I have a strong affinity for the novel as well, mainly due merely to the fact that it takes place in and itself was written in Massachusetts.

So was Mitt Romney: The Man, His Values and His Vision.  What's your point?

Mitt Romney's book is a classic of American literature?
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: David "Stubb" Oswald on November 22, 2010, 12:30:31 AM

So your argument is if it weren't absolute dreck and pablum for hundreds of pages on end, without rest or redeeming qualities, it wouldn't suck?


Somewhere between our positions there is probably a healthy compromise.  Let us strive to not reach it.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Bunsen on November 22, 2010, 12:40:59 AM

So your argument is if it weren't absolute dreck and pablum for hundreds of pages on end, without rest or redeeming qualities, it wouldn't suck?


Somewhere between our positions there is probably a healthy compromise.  Let us strive to not reach it.

Agreed.  Moby Dick is the worst book ever written, in any language, on any planet.

And you're a Satanist for liking it.

Also, your mom smells funny.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: David "Stubb" Oswald on November 22, 2010, 12:52:56 AM
Your dislike of the book is an example of the argument from personal incredulity.  You lack the intelligence to understand why it is great, therefore you believe it is terrible.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Bunsen on November 22, 2010, 12:55:34 AM
Your enjoyment of the book is an example of herd mentality.  You've been told that it's great, but lack the literary chops to recognize why it is a weak example of American Romanticism.

Also, your mom smells funny.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: David "Stubb" Oswald on November 22, 2010, 12:59:19 AM
The classic tail of Moby Dick helped save humanity when Captain Picard realized he was sacrificing everything for revenge.  If it wasn't for Melville you descendents would all be Borg.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Bunsen on November 22, 2010, 01:20:00 AM
The classic tail of Moby Dick helped will help save humanity when Captain Picard realized realizes he was will be sacrificing everything for revenge.  If it wasn't for Melville you descendents would will all be Borg.

I hate time travel grammar.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Jack on November 22, 2010, 01:31:17 AM
The classic tail of Moby Dick helped will help save humanity when Captain Picard realized realizes he was will be sacrificing everything for revenge.  If it wasn't for Melville you descendents would will all be Borg.

I hate time travel grammar.
Also, that movie sucked.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Johnny Slick on November 22, 2010, 01:37:52 AM
So I *did* read Moby Dick as an adult and so long as you use my technique I use on all 19th century novels - read it quickly, don't worry if you don't get one particular passage because the vernacular's going to be off to a person living in 2010, just get through the thing - it's actually a pretty fascinating, funny book. The aforementioned bit about a whale being a fish, for example, is pretty funny stuff. It *is* about 60% Moby Dick and 40% Melville riffing on whatever he feels like riffing on at the time, but not only is that part of its charm (you'll finish the book knowing more about whaling and what it must have been like to have been a whaler in the mid-19th century - the bad science actually helps with that - than you ever thought you could know), it's not exactly out of the ordinary. Victor Hugo does just about the same thing with French currency in Les Miserables, for example.

Anyway, it's a big, sprawling book that would have had about half of it cut by  modern day editor, but it's still not a bad read. Actually, I think there's some useful comparison between it and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, also overlong (but a lot more to the point than Dick because, well, it wasn't written in the 1840s and 50s), also stopping to discuss crap that has nothing to do with the actual story, also including memes that were pretty shocking for the time (it's pretty much a done deal that Queequeg and Ismael are lovers), also pretty messy (I just love, love, love Buffington), but also pretty gripping in its own way.

On another note, I read Catcher in the Rye when I was a kid and despite my English degree somehow never read it again as an adult. And now I'm going to have to. DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL. PHONY
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Bunsen on November 22, 2010, 02:24:03 AM
One of the big problems of Moby Dick is that it doesn't travel well.  It worked pre-Internet when people  that were reading the text hadn't seen whales for themselves, and when the taxonomy of the creature was still vague.  It had this allure of both mystery and knowing, viciousness and gentleness, which is now gone and replaced with the modern liberal American image of the whale as helpless and defenseless victim.

Another problem with Moby Dick is that it was bloated by the fact that it was written as a serialized 3-part bowdlerized novel.  Much like Doyle, Melville's greatest flaws are claimed as virtues by academia in a desperate gambit to avoid addressing the issue that problems with how popular novels of the time were published led to dramatic styles and act structures that were poorly paced and rife with filler.  This leads to the on-off-on-off narrative that Stubbs was talking about.  If you have to power through it, or "just get through the thing," as Slick was saying, it's not a good piece to teach, and it's not a good piece to hold up as a literary gold standard. 

There are plenty of comparable works from the same time period and form that aren't a chore to get through.  We should be encouraging kids to read those instead (or, God forbid, read something that was actually written within the last century and a half.)  Does Moby Dick deserve its place in the Everyman's Library catalogue?  Sure.  And I think everybody should read it.  It has an alright story, and the narrative language is both apparently natural and beautiful.  For that reason alone, everybody should try to get through it at least once.  But it's time to stop pretending that it's a relevant text that should appear in the top 10 of Great American Literature.  That list hasn't been updated since 1939, and its teeth are starting to rot out.

On another note, I read Catcher in the Rye when I was a kid and despite my English degree somehow never read it again as an adult. And now I'm going to have to. DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL. PHONY

Isn't that always the worst?  I have enough to read right now without somebody pointing out something I never noticed in the unabridged version of War and Peace, making me go back and start that 1300+ page monstrosity all over again.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: MikeNH on November 23, 2010, 02:11:53 AM
I'm no literary expert, but Holden Caulfield is my favorite literary character of all time.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Green Ideas on November 23, 2010, 03:21:01 AM
I'm no literary expert, but Holden Caulfield is my favorite literary character of all time.

I wouldn't expect otherwise from the 'Negative Vibe Agent'...

(Just kidding, I like him too.)
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Green Ideas on November 23, 2010, 03:43:33 AM
Overrated? Apparently yes, in the US at least, Salinger is not that known where I live. I like it, I like it a lot, but, as mentioned before in this thread, it's not even his best book, "Franny & Zooey" (and perhaps also "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction") is better. And if you look at the contemporary competition, well, you have "Lolita" a few years later. Now, that's a true masterpiece.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Helium Flash on December 09, 2010, 03:39:37 PM
Its the only book of his I've read, and by far the best of his I've read so far.  Awesome book.  Jane Eyre is far more overrated.  I can imagine people dislike Catcher in the Rye in the same way people dislike Blair Witch Project....mistaking the genius of progressive style for poor quality. 
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 09, 2010, 05:19:59 PM
I've been re-reading it as of late as well (actually, this thread made me pick it up). I think the #1 reason people don't like it is that they don't get the concept of the unreliable narrator. Holden says he doesn't know why he throws a punch at his roommate and then goads him into punching him back but the fact is it's freaking obvious why he did so. There are many cases where Holden seems to be calling someone a phony or sneering at them when in actuality he is offended or saddened. Actually, the use of the term "phony" itself often seems to be another way of saying "this person acts like they care about me but I know they don't."

It's a really depressing book, actually, although depressing in a good way.
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: MountainManPan on December 09, 2010, 06:48:24 PM
Why did he start the fight with his roommate?
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: stands2reason on December 09, 2010, 08:03:19 PM
You lack the intelligence to understand why it is great, therefore you believe it is terrible.

"You don't know Dick."
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 09, 2010, 10:06:23 PM
Why did he start the fight with his roommate?
(click to show/hide)

Another part that struck me in the first half of the book...

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: baublet on December 16, 2010, 10:45:11 PM
I loved this book so much. My friends and I were playing a game of Napolean in Europe, the most boring, long-winded board game of all time. Turns took hours to play out, and when a battle occurs that doesn't involve you, all you can do is wait it out.

So I went into my friend's library and found this book. I read it in one sitting--their turn took so damned long that we skipped the rest and called it a night, giving me a chance to finish it on the walk home. High school was tough for me, so I connected with the characters and the writing style in a way that made it feel so personal, so modern (I was completely surprised that the book was published years before my parents were born).

This was about my first summer out of college, I believe, but it was enough for me to realize that I wanted to have that affect on people--to tell stories that altered the way people viewed the world. So I switched my majors to something that would involve writing (history, it turned out). Now here I sit in a new city working toward my PhD in history.

I should read it again.

Then again, graduate school doesn't give you much time for reading for pleasure!
Title: Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
Post by: Johnny Slick on December 17, 2010, 01:59:21 AM
I think CitR has now become so overrated it's actually underrated.