204 of 225 people found the following review helpful
"The Catcher in the Rye" on crack. literally.,
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)This novel - written and set in Los Angeles in the 1980's, so be prepared not to understand many of the pop-culture references if you're much younger than 30 - details four weeks in the life of eighteen-year-old Clay, who returns home from college halfway through freshman year for a month-long Christmas vacation. He spends most of his time hanging out with his friends from high school, going to bars and nightclubs, having sex, and doing drugs.
So what's the big deal? Booze, sex, and drugs might be fun to *do* for four weeks, but reading about them for 200 pages sounds like it might get old. And it does. You begin to lose track of the characters, because there are so many of them. You begin to forget where Clay was this morning, where he was last night, what day and what time it is right now. You begin to stop caring how much crack he smokes or how many other drugs he mixes it with, whether his sex partners are male or female. You stop worrying that his parents might catch him, that he'll have a bad trip, that - even in 1985 - he'll get HIV.
And that's the point. The book is less a narrative than an experience. The manic highs and desperate lows of Clay's existence will blur together and you'll grow confused about the purpose of your own life. The 200 pages of this book - with large print, and broken up into easy-to-handle page-long vignettes - will become 200 minutes of ebb and flow, the swell of a wave under which you, because you aren't the one doing all those drugs, will never become trapped.
Be aware that this book can be frustrating. The central conflict is an internal one, and only vaguely delineated, and never really resolved. The book seems to end not because it is finished with the story it tells but because it has reached the end of its allotted span.
Do not read this book if you are looking for something pleasant, or something gripping, or something sweet. Do not read it for humor or suspense or an interesting plot. Read it if you read "The Catcher in the Rye" in junior high and didn't quite understand. Read it if you're nostalgic for futility. Read it on a train or a bus or in an airport, to contribute to the timeless, anchorless feel of the book. Read it quickly, in as few sittings as possible, and then leave it somewhere - in the pouch where they keep the barf bag, on the end seat of one of those long, featureless rows, on the counter in a public restroom - to keep company with somebody else, on some other journey.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 8, 2006 3:36:07 PM PDT
Ashley M. Reinke says:
I agree. I really hated the book, but I completely agree.
I think he did an incredible job of writing in a style that compliments the subject as well as it does. I had to read the book for a class about cities, and really think it's a stretch to make this novel a big part of the class, and that's why it didn't go over well with me. It needs to be read in passing. If I found this book while on some trip, I would have read it and found it just as mystifying as some of the characters and stories within it.
If you're thinking of making someone read this-don't. It is not a book that should be force-read. It will ruin it.
Posted on Oct 17, 2007 2:28:49 PM PDT
Great review. I think your third paragraph really sums up what a lot of people who find this book empty fail to realize.
Posted on Mar 23, 2008 4:13:44 PM PDT
Christopher Raissi says:
I think that the comparison to Catcher in the Rye is a very long stretch of the imagination. Although both deal with disaffected youths, that is where, in my opinion, the similarities end.
Posted on Jul 22, 2008 12:22:19 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 10, 2008 8:57:12 PM PDT]
Posted on Apr 20, 2009 2:30:56 PM PDT
Emily B. says:
Thanks. Don't know if I'll ever read this book (never read "Catcher in the Rye", but enjoyed "American Psycho"), but your review was entertaining--particularly the last paragraph.
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 9:38:51 PM PDT
Bjorn Smars says:
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2012 12:50:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2012 12:50:44 PM PDT
Oh my, Bjorn. Having to deal with the fallible people of this earth must be a very disappointing and frustrating experience for your perfect self.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 9:34:59 PM PDT
Yes, the indiscriminate use of the word "literally" in modern prose is a pet peeve of mine. Thanks for pointing it out.
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