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Catcher in the Rye Library Binding – 18 Sep 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 776 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Library Binding
  • Publisher: Paw Prints; Reprint edition (18 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439550050
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439550052
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 11.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (776 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent". Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his 16-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins:

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two haemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.
His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive), capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation. --Amazon.com

From the Inside Flap

The Catcher in Rye is the ultimate novel for disaffected youth, but it's relevant to all ages. The story is told by Holden Caulfield, a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Throughout, Holden dissects the 'phony' aspects of society, and the 'phonies' themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection.

Lazy in style, full of slang and swear words, it's a novel whose interest and appeal comes from its observations rather than its plot intrigues (in conventional terms, there is hardly any plot at all). Salinger's style creates an effect of conversation, it is as though Holden is speaking to you personally, as though you too have seen through the pretences of the American Dream and are growing up unable to see the point of living in, or contributing to, the society around you.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This book is a true classic. They say it is about teenage angst and alienation and teenage rebellion. Maybe. I for one was never alienated and did not rebel as a teenager in this way (I am a boring type), but I still enjoyed this book. To me it is about a teenager who is looking to find his place, and this may involve rebellion and naive silly stuff. It is so well written that in places I had to laugh out loud, in other places I felt with the protagonist. The story is told in first person by the protagonist, so his narration is in the style of his speech, in the American youth slang and leisurely style of the 1950s. The story has two levels or strata: on the surface, the protagonist is struggling with his teenage angst and aimlessness, but not far below and in the background there is "real life" with real problems and deep meaningful emotions. The writer manages to combine these two layers extremely well. In addition, the description of places and of New York atmosphere is very tangible and visual. Also, there is a pleasant and intense - I would say 'loving' - emotional undercurrent, despite the superficially uncaring attitude of the protagonist. The novel ends in a really heart-warming catharsis. Every adult (18 to 88) should read this book - it is an easy read and very rewarding.
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"The Catcher in the Rye" tells of Holden Caulfield, a 16-17 year old who, after being expelled from his boarding school, decides to pack up and leave. From here we experience him in the adult world, spending money, staying in hotels, experiencing (or trying to) sex. Meanwhile we are introduced to his mind. The character has a very speculative, cynical outlook which shows a sense of Salinger reaching deep inside himself to portray these complex and incredible emotions. It's a powerful portrayal of a misunderstood state of mind. Or perhaps I'm just thinking way too deeply about it. Either way, this is one of the best reads I've ever had.

Long story short, I think this is amazing. Right from the first page I was hooked. I'm very much on the same level as Caulfield. His mind set is similar to my own, and he came to life right before my eyes. It's difficult to put my finger on why I love this novel so much, I think it's because of how introspective it is. I spend a lot of my time thinking, and I suppose that aspect of my personality transcends the form of this story. For my own reasons, this is one of my favorite novels. I think that the majority of people can relate to this, as there will always be things in this world that anger us, and this is a brilliant indulgence in the cynical side of ourselves.

From what I've experienced in other reviews, there's a divide between those who think the character is unappreciative and the novel simply boring, and people who say it is a brilliant classic. It's the detractors which I will address. The beauty of the novel (at least for me) is the cynicism. Don't let this criticism put you off.
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Salinger has managed something remarkable here. Perhaps by design, perhaps by serendipity. It took me a few attempts at reading it to appreciate this. My first effort caused me to give up after a few pages. I found it prosaic, dull, pointless. Later I opened it half way through and tried again. It tells you a lot about the quality of writing that you can start anywhere and still appreciate it. I was then hooked and read it from cover the cover several times. The secret to this book's brilliance is that Salinger has made this a very personal experience. I felt a close connection with Holden Caulfield just as I'm sure millions before me have felt the same. Holden is a very credible likeable character. He calls everyone 'old'. Even his ten year old sister is 'old' Phoebe and he has a lot of love for his sister, his elder brother and his recently deceased brother. He adopts an adult droll and ends sentences with the cliched 'and all' as if he is an actor in a movie.
Holden's stream of consciousness is fascinating. He is a well meaning, flawed eccentric. He's looking for meaning in a meaningless world of 'phonies'. His search for meaning, and need to connect, causes him to ask seemingly crazy questions about 'where the ducks in Central Park go in winter and why the fish don't die when the lake is frozen over'. He is transcending the ordinary visceral selfish world of the material and the flesh and looking for fulfilment. He is of course looking for a reason for the death of his innocent teenage brother although this is never made obvious by the author. Holden is trying to be grown up by drinking, dating and engaging a 'gas cooker' but his heart is firmly ensconced in childhood, hence his desire to save youth and innocence enshrined in his 'catcher in the rye' myth.
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After hearing much about this book for many years, I finally got around to reading it. I must say that bearing in mind that it was written so long ago, it remained fresh and engaging. That said I did feel somewhat frustrated by the conclusion as much was left feeling unfinished. In many ways this is like life and it could have been the result of my wishing the story continues. I would certainly recommend the story for others.
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