I wasn't sure what this book was going to be about at first, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. What the author has done is take the weekend of December 17 thru 19,1949, the weekend of Holden Caulfield's sorry escape to Manhattan, and explain every damn bit of cultural trivia pertaining to the event itself or the text of The Catcher in the Rye.
I suppose it helps if you are willing to assume, as the author apparently does, that Holden was "real" and his experiences occurred in a historically accurate environment, but even if you don't McDaniel's lighthearted approach will probably win you over. The book is a lot of fun. Its sort of an annotated version of The Catcher in the Rye, but with the notes in a separate book. You'll probably want to keep a copy of TCITRclose by while you read because The Catcher's Companion touches on topics and details you might very well have missed unless you are an obsessive re-reader of Salinger's book.
This book should work very well for high school and college-age readers since it presupposes a lack of familiarity with dial telephones, typewriters and 78 rpm records, but even if you are old enough to remember those things there are plenty of other extended digressions that will both amaze and amuse. The passages on who the real Estelle Fletcher might have been, or who the fat piano player at Ernie's was modeled on are eye-opening. There are plenty of illustrations and drawings to further spice-up the text.
If I wanted to be uncharitable I might quibble with McDaniel on his decision to place all of the action on the weekend of December 17-19 instead of December 10-12 as some others have done, and I'm not sure his comments on the peculiar movie Phoebe saw at the Lister Foundation are as much an answer as an evasion. But that's small beans compared to the fun I had reading this book.
Have no hesitation about buying this book. It's very well written with wit and obvious love of subject. It is an enhancement to A Catcher In The Rye and in no way detracts or distracts from the novel. It also stands alone as an interesting comment on America's cultural past...my past, actually, but I enjoyed the revisit. A Catcher's Companion is designed to accompany the reader through Catcher chapter by chapter, but I found myself engrossed beyond the lines of demarcation and continued with the Companion before returning to the novel it illuminates. I recommend the book wholeheartedly. Enjoy your reading!
Readers who are new to The Catcher in the Rye, such as my high school students, will delight in A Catcher's Companion as a resource. It provides important information to help them understand the historical and cultural context of Holden's journey (how much was $5 back then?), and they are amused by the humor of many entries (try "colder than a witch's @#$"). On the other end of the spectrum, readers like me who have sustained themselves on The Catcher in the Rye for years will find A Catcher's Companion to be a delicious dessert.
The book I have received dose not include Chapter 4 at all. Page 55 is the end of Chapter 3 and page 56 is the beginning of Chapter 5. But there is a reference such as (See "booze hound" Chapter 4 above.) It is something wrong. Please send me the complete one, if any.