We’re not doing very well at combining summer, bookclub, balconies, and wine. Yet again, bookclubbers were caught in the rain as we made our way to Le Lacustre for a noisy book club meeting. This month, our theme was “I’ve always meant to read”. In this case, The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger.
Once again, the group was split on this book. One side of the table loved the book – calling the story gripping, insightful and realistic. The other side weren’t too keen – for them the book was insufferable, boring, depressing. We had our first “no score” on the book (the book clubber in question erred between love and hate and so couldn’t come up with a number) but the average score of the book was 6.3 (on a par with The Reader)
Holden also divided the group. While some felt he showed compassion and maturity, others had very little sympathy for the character. Some felt that in order to truly understand what Holden was going through you’d have to be a teenage boy.
We started the discussion exploring Salinger’s writing style. We found it interesting that, although Holden continually berates his brother for “selling out” to Hollywood, the book is written in a style that would translate to screen incredibly well.
There was the sound of pennies dropping from one side of the table when it was established that Holden was writing the book from (spoiler alert) a mental institution. Suddenly a WHOLE LOAD of his character made more sense (which isn’t to say that those of the group who didn’t like Holden had any more sympathy for him – it just made his odd behaviour a little more understandable!)
Holden’s voice was very consistent the whole way through the book – was this because it was his authentic voice, or because he didn’t change or grow through the novel? We felt it was interesting that Holden seemed to be obsessed by small things. The ducks in the lake, the way the nuns held their basket etc. Why was this? (another spoiler: we don’t have the answers)
We had a little discussion about gender – specifically, did you have to be male to relate to the book (no) and what was up with the women in the book (some very interesting female characters whom Holden either admires or avoids)
Once more (as is becoming habit at book club recently) I then stopped taking notes. A couple of pithy phrases found their way into my notebook which I shall share with you for your delectation. Don’t get your hopes up
- Violent book without violence (ed: deep!)
- Chapters weren’t end of narrative (ed: profound statements galore)
- Moments there are glimpses of madness (ed: talking about the book or discussion here?)
- Seemed simple but complex (ed: really?)
- Too old to understand angst (ed: aren’t we all?)
Until next time!