I always feel like a cliché saying The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favourite novels as a gen Xer, however I truly did love this novel when I read it at school and the several times I read it until I was around 20. I tried reading it a few years ago and while I still consider it one of my favourite books, it wasn’t quite the same as the first time I read it. I’ve always thought you had to be an adolescent to appreciate the moody, sort of angry character of Holden Caulfield, unlike Franny and Zooey, which is still relatable. Like a lot of kids, reading Catcher made me feel like somebody else understood how hard it all was.
Anyway, nostalgia aside, the other day I watched Salinger, a documentary on JD Salinger’s life and relationships. Peppered with anecdotes and recollections from over a hundred subjects including Salinger’s friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even actors including Ed Norton and John Cusack, it’s a dark and really interesting look at a man I’d never really thought much about, despite loving his books so much. I always knew he was reclusive but had no idea of his personality, his life experiences or what drove him. I’ve read previously that Salinger always said the only person who could play Holden Caulfield was himself.
It’s true that the movie has a sort of tabloid appeal; yes it’s a documentary but it was also released after Salinger’s death and he’s not here to defend himself from the more negative, quite invasive commentary (he would have hated all the fuss, no doubt about it, but then who wouldn’t!). Still, it’s a fascinating look at an interesting person in a different time.
Disturbing trivia uncovered in this; three well-known violent crimes are discussed which supposedly have a connection with the novel. That made me really think about the book’s content and Holden’s depression; I guess being a young adult in the 80s/90s I didn’t question it too much and I’ve never really thought movies and books lead to violent crime anyway. And how odd that this novel was likely not even intended as a book for young adults or teens and yet has such a huge following from several generations’ school curriculum.
Five new Salinger works are apparently being released from 2015-2020.
Video from: Salinger Official Trailer