I have never read Catcher In The Rye (which I have been told by many that I really should correct) but I was watching The Book Show and David Nicholls (of One Day fame) recommended this is a book club read, so I thought I’d give it a bash.
I downloaded it free for my Kindle – and I am really so glad that I didn’t pay for it!
The book is actually a short story and a novella – appparently Salinger wrote them both for The New Yorker and they were first published together as a book in 1961.
They are set in 1955 (which is when Ithink they were actually written). ‘Franny’ is ths short story and concerns a young woman (Franny Glass) who has come from college to see her boyfriend for the weekend, and they have met in a restaurant for lunch. She has become disillusioned with everything about college life and what she sees as the whole fakeness of everything.
She is obviously unwell, and has taken to reading a load of religious texts – especially concerning ‘The Jesus Prayer’ which is a form of continuous prayer. The story finishes when she faints.
You’re then transported to Zooey sitting in a bath, reading an old letter from one of his older brothers. It transpires that Zooey is Franny’s brother, and is currently back at the family home with him and their parents. The whole of the start of the novella is just him reading this letter. It then continues to a conversation with him and their mother, and then him and Franny.
And that’s it. That’s the whole thing.
I’d like to believe that this is some kind of insight into familial relationships, but the characters feel SO unreal that you can’t imagine that it could possibly be a narrative on any kind of actual relationship that was ever in existence.
All the religion and philosophy mentioned feels ‘Oh so worthy’ but adds nothing to the story. You really don’t know why you’re here, watching these people – what you’re going to learn from it.
And then it ends. Thank God!
I must admit, after reading this, all I felt was mild irritation – it didn’t even affect me enough to be proper irritation. I just felt that I’d lost good reading time.
I’m sure I was probably just missing the point – I’m sure many people have read it and found it deep and inspirational, but for me, it was a story without a story.