J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” started landing on bookshelves in the summer of 1951. The novel didn’t crack the Tribune’s list of best-selling fiction in Minneapolis that July – James Jones’ “From Here to Eternity” topped that list – but it did prompt publication of this favorable review by the Associated Press.
Mixed-Up Youth Is ‘Hero’ Of Tough and Tender Story
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, by J.D. Salinger (Little, Brown, $3).
A YOUNG man possessed of a young man’s vigor and callowness and an old man’s jaundiced eye rip-snorts his way though this raucous novel and by turns delights, frightens, shocks you and leaves you close to the tears into which he himself bursts as the climax to his mad escapade.
Holden Caulfield is his name. Pencey has just followed the sensible example of several other prep schools and expelled him, for out of five courses he flunked four. Pencey was “lousy,” in his opinion; his roommate Stradtlater, his neighbor Ackley who cuts his toenails all over the place, his teachers, his courses were lousy and phony, too. His parents have heard the news, but expect him on Wednesday; he decides to go three days early and have himself a time in New York.
He’s 16, but it’s not the popular, romantic “sweet 16.” Here’s a boy who likes to tell whopping big lies just for the deviltry of it; who likes to snarl and snap; who likes to suppose, though he admits he doesn’t have the family brains, that he’s smart.
But for all the grown-up swagger on the surface, he is still 16 inside. He thinks he’s fairly sexy, yet every time a girl has said, “stop,” he has stopped, and so far they’ve all said it. He has a little sister Phoebe, skinny but “nice skinny,” whom he longs to see again. He mourns his dead brother Allie. He is generous. He imagines himself catching all the people coming the rye and saving them from falling off a cliff.
He tells the story himself; tough and tender, frown and smile, bitter and sweet. It’s a sort of lost week end; it’s a boy who can’t go home again; he belongs to a lost generation and lives in a world he never made. It reminds us of significant conclusions reached by other writers in our time. But besides that, and despite your hoots of laughter at Holden’s indomitable speech, this is in essence the tragic story of a problem child, unless indeed it’s an indictment of a problem world. Month in, month out, novels don’t come much better.
|"The thing is, most of the time when you're coming pretty close to doing it with a girl, she keeps telling you to stop. The trouble with me is, I stop. Most guys don't." -- Holden Caulfield, Chapter 13 (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
More from Star Tribune
More From Yesterday's News
The story of one infant left on the counter of a confectionery shop on Lyndale Avenue S. in 1909 resonated more than most "foundling" stories.
The young woman who hatched the insurance idea described in the Minneapolis Tribune story below appears to have been an intelligent person with a broad range of interests. So how did she come up with this cockamamie idea?
The guidance offered in early horoscopes published in the Minneapolis Tribune sounds very familiar: "Women should be exceedingly cautious in all love affairs, as they are likely to be easily deceived and greatly disappointed."
Miss Louisa M. Alcott died this morning. Coming so soon after the death of her father, the suddenly announced death of Louisa M. Alcott brings a double sorrow. For a long time Miss Alcott has been ill, suffering from nervous prostration. Last autumn she appeared to be improving and went to the highlands to reside with Dr. Rhoda A. Lawrence. While there she drove into town to visit her father, Thursday, the 1st, and caught a cold, which on Saturday settled on the based of the brain and developed spinal meningitis. She died at the highlands early this morning. Miss Alcott was born on an anniversary of her father's birthday, and it is singular that she should have followed him so soon to the grave.
Have you read "Canoeing With the Cree," Eric Sevareid's engaging account of his 1930 canoe trip from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay? Sevareid, 17, and a 19-year-old friend paddled more than 2,200 miles that summer. A few decades earlier, another 17-year-old boy from Minneapolis and two friends set out on a canoe adventure that was nearly as ambitious.