After reading my sister Ellis' delightful post about Franny and Zooey, I was inspired to scan the shelves for other little white covers with striped corners. I was hoping to find a copy of Nine Stories to continue the Glass Family line and specifically the Wes Anderson connection. Frankly, I wanted to accuse old Wes (affectionally, of course) of something close to blatant plagarism of Salinger. But fortunately for the indie darling, all I could find was a copy of Catcher in the Rye.
I have always been somewhat embarrassed by my predictable love for this book, knowing some people find it adolescent and overrated. Last year I remember reading this article about how today's teens no longer "relate to" Holden, preferring a more pro-active and confident protagonist. I am just a tad incredulous about the claim, or just hopeful.
above, Igby, a sullen type from the 2002 movie
above, J.Biebs, 2010's cheerful main teen man
I just can't see the book going out of style. I don't relate to Holden like I did at fourteen (thank God) but relating to him is only part of the fun. When I re-read the book yesterday, I found myself lol-ing on almost every page. The things that annoy him, they just kill me, they really do, (so to speak). It's not just the phonies that get to him; Holden has a catalogue of pet peeves that rivals Woody Allen's: preppies, Catholics, tourists, plays that are overly witty, people who step back and give themselves room when they answer a question, dates that don't know the particular way he likes his hand held at the movies.
He is outrageously skeptical even of the things he likes, like in this hilarious exchange between he and the attractive nun he meets at Grand Central. She asks him what he read in school this year, and he lists Romeo and Juliet:
" 'Oh Romeo and Juliet! Lovely! Didn't you just love it?'
She certainly didn't sound like a nun.
'Yes. I did. I liked it a lot. There were a few things I didn't like about it, but it was quite moving,
on the whole.' "
Even if todays teenagers are as confident and proactive as the Times seems to believe they are, they don't have to relate to Holden any more than they do Woody Allen in order to find him "quite moving." He is everywhere, and especially in New York. So put on a houndstooth jacket and a red hunting cap.
hunting hat and houndstooth from Jpress
Pack a swiss cheese sandwich and eat in Grand Central. Walk to Central Park, taking care to become depressed by hoards of tourists on Broadway. Look for ducks and fish in the frozen lagoon, go to the zoo, and strike up a conversation with a kid at the carousel. Then walk up to the Natural History Museum and patrol for graffiti. If you want to finish off your Catcher in the Rye day with a drink at The Wicker Bar in The Seton, it still exists, on 40th Street, but don't expect to run into Hollywood types there as Holden did, try Little Branch in the West Village for a more accurate equivallent. Times have changed, after all. But--oh, please--not too much.