Not to Speak Ill of the Dead or Anything

But just because I choose to say nice things about a reclusive short story writer, doesn’t mean that I have softened my stance toward that other thing he ‘wrote’, Catcher in the Rye. Honestly, I’m about to lose my cookies, running into all this praise for a book I only finished by dint of sheer willpower, desperately fighting sleep with the force of my contempt for the main character and the school system that made me keep reading about him. I earned my grade on that one, sure that some literary value must be in there somewhere. But no, it really was stupider and less funny than Catch 22.

I would say I hated that book, except it wasn’t as bad as stupid Earth Abides. It stunk and it was overrated, but there are worse books out there. Like Stranger in a Strange Land, although that actually has some entertainment value. Just not many that are universally acclaimed as classics, and which some people actually claim to like, the dear Lord knows why.

However, the constant insistence that it’s still an edgy book? That’s delusional. Nobody’s impressed by a bad word here or there, and they haven’t been for the last thirty or more years. This book is jawdroppingly naive. There are fundamentalist Christian homeschoolers who do edgier stuff than this for service projects. Maybe now that the author’s dead, the Baby-boomers will finally acknowledge that it’s an old man’s book, far behind the times, but not in a charming way.

Any one page of Boswell’s Life of Johnson will teach you more about humanity and life.

That includes pages composed entirely of bibliographic footnotes.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Not to Speak Ill of the Dead or Anything

  1. Name witheld for sake of privacy

    Don’t underestimate the power of that book. It’s a little like pretending there is no such thing as The Devil.
    Can you tell me what book happened to be in the hands of a certain Beatle’s assassin?
    I was once a high school student adrift without the reference points of our beautiful Catholic Faith. I was not allowed to drop my English class, which was making me feel worse by the day. I got through Catcher in the Rye, unfortunately, but not Crime and Punishment. Too bad, as the first pushed me over the edge, and the second might have caught me with it’s defense of Christianity.
    Females turn their violence inwards. I believed Holden. It was really hard to live in his world, but he , JD Salinger, made me believe in it. Ironically, I found myself in the same predicament as the main character by the end of the book: in a mental hospital. My way was different, I didn’t want to hunt any people, just myself.
    So, don’t underestimate the power of this book. It deserves to be listed as edgy, if only in the hopes that we keep it on the edge. If it reaches the Center of our culture, and sadly I suspect it has, we can no longer refer to this nation or this culture as Christian

  2. Heh, one of the few “but it’s a classic!!!” soul-eaters we didn’t read at school…..

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