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The Catcher in the Rye Paperback – January 30, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 4,537 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Novel by J.D. Salinger, published in 1951. The influential and widely acclaimed story details the two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, he searches for truth and rails against the "phoniness" of the adult world. He ends up exhausted and emotionally ill, in a psychiatrist's office. After he recovers from his breakdown, Holden relates his experiences to the reader. --none --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reissue edition (January 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316769177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316769174
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,537 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
In J.D. Salinger's brilliant coming-of-age novel, Holden Caulfield, a seventeen year old prep school adolescent relates his lonely, life-changing twenty-four hour stay in New York City as he experiences the phoniness of the adult world while attempting to deal with the death of his younger brother, an overwhelming compulsion to lie and troubling sexual experiences.
Salinger, whose characters are among the best and most developed in all of literature has captured the eternal angst of growing into adulthood in the person of Holden Caulfield. Anyone who has reached the age of sixteen will be able to identify with this unique and yet universal character, for Holden contains bits and pieces of all of us. It is for this very reason that The Catcher in the Rye has become one of the most beloved and enduring works in world literature.
As always, Salinger's writing is so brilliant, his characters so real, that he need not employ artifice of any kind. This is a study of the complex problems haunting all adolescents as they mature into adulthood and Salinger wisely chooses to keep his narrative and prose straightforward and simple.
This is not to say that The Catcher in the Rye is a straightforward and simple book. It is anything but. In it we are privy to Salinger's genius and originality in portraying universal problems in a unique manner. The Catcher in the Rye is a book that can be loved and understood on many different levels of comprehension and each reader who experiences it will come away with a fresh view of the world in which they live.
A work of true genius, images of a catcher in the rye are abundantly apparent throughout this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Time has not damaged this tome; it remains a sometimes harrowing, sometimes absorbing, sometimes frustrating, sometimes moving look into a mind in a state of disarray.

Others have written more "shocking" books or have been more overtly anti-social, but with The Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger captures the bitterly confused mind of a youth who hates the whole world not because the world is worth hating, but because he's frustrated at his own inability to get along in that world, with such crisp reality that it shocks far more than any fantastical American Psycho.

Reading over the negative reviews on Amazon, I can't help but wonder how and why so many people are so unable to get it. The Catcher In The Rye is among the, if not the, most tangibly realistic looks into the mind of a disaffected, disillusioned youth suffering from depression (and a touch of the bipolar). The way Holden Caulfield's mind works is incredibly true to form - the contradictions, the hypocrisy, the confusion, the brief moments of sheer clarity followed by stretches of irrational thought. He thinks he's better than the world, and he thinks he's the lousiest person in the world at the same time. He wants everyone to go away and leave him alone, and he can't bear anyone, not even some schmuck he really dislikes (with good reason), to leave him. He's nothing but hypocrisy and contradictions and confusion. Salinger captures this in an amazing way.

People criticize the book because Caulfield is totally unlikable, a guy who rails against phonies when he himself is something of a phony ... but that's part of the point. Holden throws off all the signals someone in his situation actually throws off in real life, and just like real life, they're almost always ignored.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is difficult to remember what it was like to read this book for the first time. It is also difficult to imagine a book where each new reading provides so much more illumination into the main character and his personality. I can remember finding Catcher to be funny the first time I read it. I now alternately find Holden to be walking a fine line between witty sarcasm and dangerous cynicism. He is funny, there is no way around that, but his belittling nature also causes him to dismiss much from his life that may not be perfect, but should be included. There is nothing that he, in the end, does not dismiss as being phony, whether it is the nuns with whom he shares a cup of coffee, the teacher at the end who most likely was just trying to help, the Egyptian wing of the museum, Pheobe's school...everything. As soon as one little detail slips in which is not completely on track with what he is thinking whatever it is he is contemplating becomes useless, phony, not worth dealing with. His humor is sharp and witty and I often laugh out loud while reading, but it is also an easy way for him to detach himself from a world which he no longer feels he belongs in, or wants to belong in. I can remember finding the ending ambiguous the first time I read it. I now see it as the only way it could end, with Holden finding happiness watching his sister Pheobe going forever in circles, and being able to pretend that that is never going to change. She is the one thing in his life which he still deems worthy of existence, and placing her on a merry-go-round is his best attempt to keep her there. Things change and grow and move on, but Holden refuses to accept this and is yearning to stop things forever where they are, to go back to when D.B. was a writer full of dreams and Allie was still alive.Read more ›
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