You know what, I was reading Salinger. And I feel sorta weird after the book. You see, it’s like this. Whenever I read some book (except Sheldons and the like), I mean any book that has any sorta feeling in it, I have to review it. Or at least say something about it. Books and movies leave me with a million words surging in my head. So here I am. Writing about Salinger. But I can’t review him, you know. The book was written some 50 yrs ago. (I think I’m wrong about that, but honestly, who cares?) And I am sure if you google, you’ll find a million reviews. And it wasn’t all that great a book for a review. Just a very very weird book that left u feeling weird too. And ruined your language (which I am sure you can see in this review).
How did I get to the book? Well, I had heard of Salinger of course, but I never caught hold of his books. And last week I was reading this beautiful short story where the gal says she is reading him. And since it was vacation, I thought I’d do a google on him. I couldn’t find the books initially, of course. I mean, not free editions. But finally I did. And then I just started reading this afternoon. Its only 115 pages, so u can finish it in less than half a day. And it’s quite a fast read- what with ungrammatical language and very simply understandable stuff. But the funny thing is you don’t understand what’s happening till the end. And honestly, I thought I only liked the last two-three pages. But once I was done, I could get the whole point. And then suddenly, I knew I liked the book.
God, that sound pretty much like a post-script to “Catcher in the Rye”- same tone, I admit. And I’m sure u wouldn’t understand this post at all unless u read it right after the book. Anyway, what I got outta the book was- the problem of a guy who really didn’t fit into this so-called suave and sophisticated world. That’s really a good issue to write a book about. And the really wonderful thing is, if u asked an Indian to write a book about a guy that didn’t fit, he would make the protagonist a real weirdo. And he would exaggerate situations beyond despair. And in the end he would kill the hero or something. As if weird people can’t live on. Honestly, till I finished the book, I was half expecting the guy to die or something. Or I thought that they would put him in an asylum soon. It’s the thing with us, you know- Indians are so crazy about the system. They just wanna run the mad rat race, however mad it gets. And the worst part is, even when they want to laugh at the system they do it in such a stereotypical way, u get sick of it. Maybe we should name our capital “cliché”. It would suit the country.
Anyway, this book is quite humourous, if u get to understand the humour at all. And it’s also quite insightful. (I know our college MOC guys call anything from the HOD’s welcome addresses to the chairmen’s vote of thanks “insightful”, but this time I mean it!) And it got u thinking about the world- about how crazy it really is. And about the people who live life the way they want and not the way they have to (I know that phrase is another of those clichés, but I really couldn’t think up anything else, u know.) And come on, why do we all have to earn and smile at everyone we hate and be called cultured? THAT is the question the book asks. And a very good question. I could, of course, go about answering it, but that would make our discussion too long. Anyway, the point is that society creates these crazy rules that are really not necessary for us as individuals. And it is true that the world would be a mad place without those rules. But then it is probably a mad place anyway.
(Incidentally, I picked this quote today afternoon, and till now, I didn’t realize how much it fit the book I read. It says- “Society needs rules that are quite meaningless as individuals. For example, it doesn’t matter if a car goes on the right side of the road or the left. But when there are many cars it makes all the difference!”)
Then there was this thing about innocence- how a guy cannot remain innocent for too long in this world. In Salinger style, I should say “it killed me”. It is one of the few things I often wonder about- the fact that innocence is so terribly lost in this world. And it’s such a pity. But I am not too sure if we’ll all be happy if everyone retained their innocence as adults. We’d probably get tired of that too. Anyway, that was a beautiful thing about the book.
There is more, actually. Like how the guy uses decent language though it’s all colloquial. Take any book today and you find it full of filthy language. And this book wasn’t at all classical. It was very much American schoolish. But no obscenity. (Unless u think ‘bastard’ is an obscene word!) Or maybe even if he talks obscene stuff, they don’t sound bad! At least they didn’t get me disgusted.
And there is also this part about brother-sister relationships. It’s not the way they show it in our novels and movies, u know. U must have a younger sibling to know what it feels like. But every minute the Caulfield guy was admiring his sis, I knew exactly what he felt. Younger siblings can drive you crazy at times. (both positive and negative) And he had captured that feeling pretty well. Not sentimental or any sobby stuff. Just the fact of liking your sister or brother and having a great time with them.
Anyway, the book wasn’t a whiff of fresh air into your mind or anything poetic of that sort that reviewers usually say. Nor did it stir a storm of revolution into your heart. It just made u think about the world. Actually, I dunno. I’ll only say, try reading the book sometime. It may be worth it.
P.S.:- I just read (about ten minutes after first publishing this post) in wikipedia that this was one of the most challenged book etc. and that it has too much profanity, quite contrary to what I thought. But maybe there is so much more profanity in the world today. Another thing is that the book is supposed to be abt a guy who is "growing up". I leave you to read all those interpretations. I ve written exactly wat I thought about the book. If it is not the right interpretation, well, there is wiki neway! :)