ironical isn't a word

How do I count the ways I hate J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye?

I am on page 40 and have nearly 200 more pages until I am done this novel for Sunday's book club. I wish I had finished it the first time, when I was 16, rather than getting so frustrated by the main character's inaction now -- his very refusal to do anything, his really amazing ability to stifle and cripple his own emotions.

Ironical isn't a word. Or at least, it damn well shouldn't be.

I get that Salinger is trying to illustrate that the protagonist doesn't know as much about the world, and himself, and being an adult, and basic language, as he thinks he does. (Although a friend did spell that out for me this evening over drinks while I lamented the world at large.) But really? Using "ironical" once every other page? That's really just irritating.

I also kind of hate this line:

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. (p. 18)

Salinger checked out. Teenage boys in every western, developed, English-speaking country since the 1950s have wanted to meet this guy to tell him about how they, too, are intellectually and emotionally stifled, and he just checked out. He went all secluded, he stopped writing, and he wouldn't let his book be turned into a movie, forcing those angsty teenage boys to grow up and make movies just like it.

I'm trying to contextualize this book as something I could enjoy reading. I simply can't put it in the same category as the teenage girl's best friend, The Bell Jar, because Plath is a better writer and her protagonist was far more depressing.

A fellow member of book club has decided to read it as a boy's journey toward a complete breakdown. I choose to read it as a case study in the male ego, with particular emphasis on what this tells me about the men I've known who love this book.

No comments: