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The Catcher in the Rye The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say about this book that hasn't been said a thousand times before? Well, this, actually:

I first read The Catcher in the Rye when I was in school; it might have been late elementary school, or it could have been junior high. In any case, it was in the late 1970s. And I believed that it was a contemporary book. Years later, I discovered that it had been published in 1951. That simply amazed me.

Some of it certainly went over my head as a young teen, of course. I was fairly innocent back then. Now I get it, of course. But even now, in early middle age, I can't help but feel that Holden is a friend.

I see I'm wandering into cliche.

One thing: I did find a book which is remarkably similar in tone to The Catcher in the Rye. It's fundamentally different, mind you; I certainly don't want to imply that there was plagiarism involved. Not at all! The Teddy-Bear Habit was written in the 1960s, is written for the 10-16 year old age group (roughly speaking), and includes a lot of humor as well as action and suspense; the hero has problems, but they're nowhere near as serious as Holden's. On the other hand, the book is set in Greenwich Village.

But something about the internal narration by young George Stable is so reminiscent of Holden's inner voice that in my memory I've sometimes mixed the two together. So if you love The Catcher in the Rye, you may want to give The Teddy-Bear Habit a try. See if you can pick up one of the older editions, illustrated by New Yorker illustrator Lorenz; they complement the text wonderfully.

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