The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comme...

Title:The Catcher in the Rye
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0316769177
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:277 pages

The Catcher in the Rye Reviews

  • J.G. Keely
    May 26, 2007

    Sometimes truth isn't just stranger than fiction, it's also more interesting and better plotted. Salinger helped to pioneer a genre where fiction was deliberately less remarkable than reality. His protagonist says little, does little, and thinks little, and yet Salinger doesn't string Holden up as a satire of deluded self-obsessives, he is rather the epic archetype of the boring, yet self-important depressive.

    I've taken the subway and had prolonged conversations on the street with prostitutes (n

    Sometimes truth isn't just stranger than fiction, it's also more interesting and better plotted. Salinger helped to pioneer a genre where fiction was deliberately less remarkable than reality. His protagonist says little, does little, and thinks little, and yet Salinger doesn't string Holden up as a satire of deluded self-obsessives, he is rather the epic archetype of the boring, yet self-important depressive.

    I've taken the subway and had prolonged conversations on the street with prostitutes (not concerning business matters), and I can attest that Salinger's depiction is often accurate to what it feels like to go through an average, unremarkable day. However, reading about an average day is no more interesting than living one.

    Beyond that, Salinger doesn't have the imagination to paint people as strangely as they really are. Chekhov's 'normal' little people seem more real and alive than Salinger's because Chekhov injects a little oddness, a little madness into each one. Real people are almost never quite as boring as modernist depictions, because everyone has at least some ability to surprise you.

    Salinger's world is desaturated. Emotions and moments seep into one another, indistinct as the memories of a drunken party. Little importance is granted to events or thoughts, but simply pass by, each duly tallied by an author in the role of court reporter.

    What is interesting about this book is not that it is realistically bland, but that it is artificially bland. Yet, as ridiculous a concept as that is, it still takes itself entirely in earnest, never acknowledging the humor of its own blase hyperbole.

    This allows the book to draw legions of fans from all of the ridiculously dull people who take themselves as seriously as Holden takes himself. They read it not as a parody of bland egotism but a celebration, poised to inspire all the bland egotists who have resulted from the New Egalitarianism in Art, Poetry, Music, and Academia.

    Those same folks who treat rationality and intellectual fervor like a fashion to be followed, imagining that the only thing required to be brilliant is to mimic the appearance and mannerisms of the brilliant; as if black berets were the cause of poetic inspiration and not merely a symptom.

    One benefit of this is that one can generally sniff out pompous faux intellectuals by the sign that they hold up Holden as a sort of messianic figure. Anyone who marks out Holden as a role-model is either a deluded teen with an inflated sense of entitlement, or is trying to relive the days when they were.

    But what is more interesting is that those who idolize Holden tend to be those who most misunderstand him. Upon close inspection, he's

    , not consumed with ennui or an existential crisis, he's actually suffering from 'Shell Shock'--now known as 'Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder'.

    The way he thinks about his brother's and classmate's deaths--going over the details again and again in his mind, but with no emotional connection--it's not symptomatic of depression, but of psychological trauma. He is stuck in a cycle, unable to process events, going over them again and again, but never able to return to normalcy.

    It takes a certain kind of self-centered prick to look at someone's inability to cope with the reality of death and think "Hey, that's just like my mild depression over how my parents won't buy me a newer ipod!" It's not an unusual stance in American literature--there's an arrogant detachment in American thought which has become less and less pertinent as the world grows and changes. As recently as

    we have American authors comparing a difficult father-son relationship to the pain and turmoil of an African civil war survivor--and winning awards for displaying their insensitive arrogance.

    Perhaps it's time we woke up and realized that the well-fed despondence of the white man should not be equated with a lifetime of death, starvation, war, and traumas both physical and emotional. And as for Salinger--a real sufferer of Post-Traumatic Stress who was one of the first soldiers to see a concentration camp, who described how you can never forget the smell of burning flesh--I can only imagine how he felt when people read his story of a man, crippled by the thought of death, and thought to themselves "Yes, that's just what it's like to be a trustafarian with uncool parents". No wonder he became a recluse and stopped publishing.

  • Richard
    Jul 31, 2007

    My theory as to this book's unusually polarizing nature: either you identify with Holden Caulfield or you don't.

    Those who see themselves (either as they were or, God help them, as they are) in Holden see a misunderstood warrior-poet, fighting the good fight against a hypocritical and unfeeling world; they see in Salinger a genius because he

    it, and he gets

    .

    Those of us who don't relate to Holden see in him a self-absorbed whiner, and in Salinger, a one-trick-pony who lucked into perform

    My theory as to this book's unusually polarizing nature: either you identify with Holden Caulfield or you don't.

    Those who see themselves (either as they were or, God help them, as they are) in Holden see a misunderstood warrior-poet, fighting the good fight against a hypocritical and unfeeling world; they see in Salinger a genius because he

    it, and he gets

    .

    Those of us who don't relate to Holden see in him a self-absorbed whiner, and in Salinger, a one-trick-pony who lucked into performing his trick at a time when some large fraction of America happened to be in the right collective frame of mind to perceive this boring twaddle as subversive and meaningful.

  • Cheyenne
    Aug 04, 2007

    If I could give this book a zero, I would. I absolutely hated it. Generally, I don't hate books, either. Usually it's a very strong dislike, and generally, I give them a second chance. But no, I will never be reading this book again.

    In my opinion, Holden is the worst character in the English language. Salinger tried just

    damn hard to make him 'universal', to the point where he becomes unrealistic. His train of thought is annoying and repetitive, and God, those catchphrases of his. Can someon

    If I could give this book a zero, I would. I absolutely hated it. Generally, I don't hate books, either. Usually it's a very strong dislike, and generally, I give them a second chance. But no, I will never be reading this book again.

    In my opinion, Holden is the worst character in the English language. Salinger tried just

    damn hard to make him 'universal', to the point where he becomes unrealistic. His train of thought is annoying and repetitive, and God, those catchphrases of his. Can someone shut this kid up? Holden is almost the anti-Gary Stu. Nearly every thing's wrong with him. The one good thing about him being his love for his younger sister.

    The plot is one of the worst I've ever read. It's boring, and it, like Holden, is unbelievably and painfully repetitive. Holden calls up an old friend, has a drink. Holden calls up a girl, has a drink. Holden dances with a girl. Then he drinks. Was there a climax to this book? I must have missed it. Maybe it was Holden nearly freezing to death (um, what?) in Central Park? No, no, maybe it was when Holden called up that hooker! Maybe not. The plot is so fuzzy and flat I couldn't tell when to peak my interest.

    And that's just it, it never did.

    So buh-bye, Holden! Your book's been gathering dust on my shelf for the past two years and it'll stay that way. Until I decide to sell it, of course.

  • Shana
    Dec 26, 2007

    I read this book for the first time in the 8th grade. I had to get my mom to sign a permission slip because of the cursing. Before I began reading, I had so many expectations. Back then, I read

    , and back then,

    ran brainy features about books and poetry. There was one feature where they asked people what book changed their lives, and something like more than half said

    . I think there might have been some celebrity comments in there, too. At

    I read this book for the first time in the 8th grade. I had to get my mom to sign a permission slip because of the cursing. Before I began reading, I had so many expectations. Back then, I read

    , and back then,

    ran brainy features about books and poetry. There was one feature where they asked people what book changed their lives, and something like more than half said

    . I think there might have been some celebrity comments in there, too. At any rate, it was a ringing endorsement.

    So you can imagine my disappointment when I hated it. Not only did I hate Holden, but I hated everything about the novel. There was nothing I enjoyed. I did my book report where I confessed my hatred (which led my teacher to confess that she did, too), but I couldn't let it go. I honestly felt that my loathing of a novel that so many others found "life-changing" indicated some deep and horrible flaw. I felt like hating

    was my dirty little secret.

    Time passed, and my self-loathing mellowed. I began to think that perhaps I'd come at it too young, so after my first year of college, I decided to re-read it, go at it with fresh eyes, and see if my opinion had changed.

    Here's the thing: it hasn't. I get it. I get that Holden is supposed to be loathsome. I get that he is the hypocrite he hates. I get that almost all teenagers go through the kind of thinking he experiences.

    I do. I just don't like it.

    Oh, and I'm not ashamed anymore.

  • Kathy
    Mar 25, 2008

    I read the end of The Catcher in the Rye the other day and found myself wanting to take Holden Caulfield by the collar and shake him really, really hard and shout at him to grow up. I suppose I've understood for some time now that The Catcher in the Rye -- a favorite of mine when I was sixteen -- was a favorite precisely because I was sixteen. At sixteen, I found Holden Caulfield's crisis profoundly moving; I admired his searing indictment of society, his acute understanding of human nature, his

    I read the end of The Catcher in the Rye the other day and found myself wanting to take Holden Caulfield by the collar and shake him really, really hard and shout at him to grow up. I suppose I've understood for some time now that The Catcher in the Rye -- a favorite of mine when I was sixteen -- was a favorite precisely because I was sixteen. At sixteen, I found Holden Caulfield's crisis profoundly moving; I admired his searing indictment of society, his acute understanding of human nature, his extraordinary sensitivity (I mean, come on, he had a nervous breakdown for God's sake, he had to be sensitive). At sixteen, I wanted to marry Holden Caulfield. At forty, I want to spank him. After all, Holden's indictment of society boils down to the "insight" that everybody is a phony. That's the kind of insight a sixteen year old considers deep. A forty year old of the grown-up variety recognizes Holden's insight as superficial and banal, indulging in the cheapest kind of adolescent posturing. It suggests a grasp of society and of human nature that's about as complex as an episode of Dawson's Creek. Holden and his adolescent peers typically behave as though the fate they have suffered (disillusionment and the end of innocence) is unique in human history. He can't see beyond the spectacle of his own disillusionment (and neither can J. D. Salinger); for all his painful self-consciousness, Holden Caulfield is not really self-aware. He can't see that he himself is a phony.

    Compare Salinger's novel of arrested development, for instance, with a real bildungsroman, Great Expectations. Holden Caulfield is an adolescent reflecting on childhood and adolescence; Pip Pirrip is an adult reflecting on childhood and adolescence. Holden Caulfield has the tunnel vision of teendom, and he depicts events with an immediacy and absorption in the experience that blocks out the broader context, the larger view. Pip Pirrip has the wonderful double vision of a sensitive adult recollecting the sensitive child he used to be; he conveys at the same time the child's compelling perspective and the adult's thoughtful revision of events. While Holden Caulfield litters his narrative with indignant exposes of phonies and frauds, Pip Pirrip skillfully concentrates on "the spurious coin of his own make" -- that is, without letting the child Pip and the adolescent Pip in on the joke, he exposes himself as a phony. Pip Pirrip grows up. Holden Caulfield has a nervous breakdown.

    I suppose the only reason I begrudge him his breakdown is that so many in our culture -- many more, unfortunately, than just the legitimate adolescents among us -- seem fixated on Holden as a symbol of honesty and socially-liberating rebellion. We view nervous collapse and dysfunction as a badge of honor, a sign -- to put it in Caulfieldian terms -- that we are discerning enough to see through all the crap. Our celebration of overwrought disaffection reminds me of the last sentence of Joyce’s Araby: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” Here is the adolescent pose non-pareil. Equally self-accusing and self-aggrandizing, it captures the adolescent at the precise moment when his own disillusionment becomes the object of his grandiose and self-dramatizing vision. That’s the kind of crap that Holden Caulfield (and J. D. Salinger) cannot see through. And it is often the kind of crap that we “adults” like to slosh around in.

    The Barney beating of several years ago is another symptom of our arrested adolescence, our inability to ride the wave of disillusion into the relatively calm harbor of adulthood -- as though flailing around in the storm and raging at the wind were in themselves marks of distinction and a superior sensibility. I remember a news story about a woman in a Barney costume being seriously injured when a rabid (and probably drunken) anti-Barney fanatic attacked the big purple dinosaur at some public event. Now, I don’t know the age of the Barney-beater, but the act itself is a supremely adolescent one, in which the impulsive response to disillusionment is to lash out at those symbols of childhood which made the biggest dupes of us. At the dawn of adolescence, when Barney begins to appear cloying and false, it seems natural to want to beat up on him, as though it was Barney himself who pulled one over on us instead of our own poignant and necessary misapprehension of the nature of things. I could see Holden Caulfield beating up on Barney (at least rhetorically), and I could see Holden Caulfield missing Barney (as he misses all the “phonies” at the end of the book), but I cannot see Holden Caulfield accepting the postlapsarian Barney on new terms, as a figure who is meant for children and not for him. For all his touching poses about wanting to be the “catcher in the rye,” what Holden really wants is not to save children but to be a child again.

  • Matt
    Jul 12, 2009

    I was worried as hell about reading this book again. The last time I read it was about a thousand years ago when I was just a kid. I was lousy with angst just like good old Holden back then. I really was. Now that I’m a crummy old guy I figured that I wouldn’t like it anymore. That’s the one thing about crummy old guys, they always hate books that kids like. Every time I reread a corny book that I really liked when I was a kid it makes me want to give the writer a buzz and ask what the hell is g

    I was worried as hell about reading this book again. The last time I read it was about a thousand years ago when I was just a kid. I was lousy with angst just like good old Holden back then. I really was. Now that I’m a crummy old guy I figured that I wouldn’t like it anymore. That’s the one thing about crummy old guys, they always hate books that kids like. Every time I reread a corny book that I really liked when I was a kid it makes me want to give the writer a buzz and ask what the hell is going on. It’s like they are trying to give you the time in the back of a cab when you don’t feel like getting the time at all. It’s damn depressing, I swear to God it is. If you want to know the truth, you probably couldn’t even talk to a phony writer on the phone. You would just end up talking to his butler or some snobbish person like that and asking if they would give the writer your message. He probably wouldn’t even do it. The thing with guys like that is that they will never give writers your messages. That’s something that annoys the hell out of me.

    Turns out this is still a damn good book. Salinger kid is a great writer. He really is. Maybe I’m still just an angst-ridden sonuvabitch, but this part kills me:

    “All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddam horse, but I didn’t say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.”p.211

    I’ll bet everyone is going to think that I’m just horsin’ around or trying to be all sexy talking like this. The reason for this corny review is because a thousand other people have already written reviews for this book and I’ll bet that they have already said everything that I want to say. It’s pretty depressing. It really is. That’s about all that I’m going to talk about. Now I just hope that no one writes “fuck you” on this review. That’s the thing with some people, they are always sneaking up and writing “fuck you” on your book reviews when you are not looking. They really are.

  • Stephen
    Mar 18, 2010

    5.0 stars. I LOVE IT when I go into a book with low expectations and it ends up knocking me on my ass. Admittedly, this is tougher to do with "classics" but it certainly happened in this case. I remember first reading this in school (like many of us) and not thinking it was anything special. However, having first read it almost 25 years ago, I knew I had to read it again before I could feel justified in actually reviewing it. Of course, I didn’t hold out much hope that my feelings would change a

    5.0 stars. I LOVE IT when I go into a book with low expectations and it ends up knocking me on my ass. Admittedly, this is tougher to do with "classics" but it certainly happened in this case. I remember first reading this in school (like many of us) and not thinking it was anything special. However, having first read it almost 25 years ago, I knew I had to read it again before I could feel justified in actually reviewing it. Of course, I didn’t hold out much hope that my feelings would change and was expecting a fairly painful reading experiece.

    In fact, as I started reading, I was already thinking about what my amazingly insightful, completely “isn’t it cool to bash on the classics” 1 star review was going to focus on. I thought maybe I could bag on the less than spectacular prose used by Salinger (making myself feel really smart in the process). Or maybe I could take some jabs at the less than exciting narrative pacing (and throw in a few references to "watching paint dry").

    In the end, I thought my most likely avenue for

    reviewing this anthem of teen angst was that it was

    no longer relevant today because of the GLUT of teen angst that the recent generations have been exposed to

    growing up. I mean we live in a time in which teen angst is EVERYWHERE and even has its own sub-genre label now. You can find it in:

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    So what happened to all of the preconceived notions I had before I starting reading this book?

    Instead, I found myself completely drawn into the rich, nuanced story of Holden Caulfield. I found myself empathizing with Caulfield almost from the beginning (something I did not expect to do). His "annoying", "pseudo rebellious" and "just don't care" exterior were so obviously manufactured and so patently hiding a seriously sad and lost boy that I was transfixed on finding the real Holden Caulfield.

    Despite the book being written "in Holden's own words" the reader was still able to discern that Holden's surface response to a situation was hiding a much deeper, emotional resposne. For Salinger to be able to infuse that kind of nuance into the sparse prose of Caulfield’s narrative was nothing short of brilliant in my opinion.

    Caulfied is lazy. He is stubborn. He is immature. He is unfocused. He is untruthful. He is dangerously short-sighted and he is lost in his own world or unrealistic expectations. Sounds like that could certainly be a not unsubstantial portion of the male 16 year old population.

    However, after reading this book, I learned a few other things about Holden that I though were fascinating and that are not as often discussed:

    1. He is desperately lonely (he even goes so far as ask his cab drivers to join him for a drink);

    2. He is generous with his time and his things (he writes an essay for his roommate despite being upset with him and even lets him borrow his jacket);

    3. He is extremely sensitive and longs for an emotional (rather than just a physical) commitment (he mentions several times his need to “be in love” in order to be physical and his experience with the prostitute certainly bears this out);

    4. He is intelligent (despite being lazy and unfocused, Holden displays great insight and intelligence regarding books he has read and displays at the museum); and

    5. Despite being unable to process it correctly, he is full of compassion and has a deep capacity for love, which he shows most notably for his sister (this was one of the most powerful parts of the story for me as it was Holden’s desire to avoid hurting Phoebe that keeps him from running away at the end of the book).

    Taking all of the good and the bad together, I was left with the feeling that Holden is an adolescent on the cusp of adulthood who is achingly afraid of the loss of his childhood and the responsibility and commitment that he sees as required to make it in the “adult” world. He is compassionate, intelligent and deeply emotional and yet is unable (or unwilling) to focus that energy on those steps that he sees as leading him away from his “happy memories of childhood” and closer to the “scary world of the adult.”

    I think this is superbly shown in Holden's expressed dream of wanting to being the “Catcher in the Rye.”

    Here is a person so afraid of growing up and so averse to giving into the pain and sadness that he sees as the result of becoming an adult that he wants nothing more than to spend his life protecting others from losing the innocence of childhood. Big, crazy, “I want to save the world” dreams are a wonderful part of childhood and it is a shame that such ideas and beliefs are too often destroyed under the barrage of “you really need to grow up” rather than having such dreams transitioned and re-focused into daring the improbable within the world of the possible.

    A great and moving reading experience and one that I give my HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

  • mark monday
    Jul 01, 2011

    today i am 15 years old. everything is all bullshit, as usual. i can't believe how fucked everything is around me. like i'm surrounded by zombies. i can't talk to any of my so-called friends, i can't talk to jamie, i can't talk to my parents. who would bother listening anyway. i cannot wait to leave orange county! this place makes me fucking sick. everyone is a hypocrite. everything is so goddamn bright and shiny and sunny and meaningless. FUCK, life is so full of crap.

    there is one

    today i am 15 years old. everything is all bullshit, as usual. i can't believe how fucked everything is around me. like i'm surrounded by zombies. i can't talk to any of my so-called friends, i can't talk to jamie, i can't talk to my parents. who would bother listening anyway. i cannot wait to leave orange county! this place makes me fucking sick. everyone is a hypocrite. everything is so goddamn bright and shiny and sunny and meaningless. FUCK, life is so full of crap.

    there is one good thing in my life though. just read this book Catcher in the Rye. blown away! i don't know how a book written decades ago could say exactly what i would say. it is like the author was reading my thoughts and put it all down in this book. things i didn't even realize i felt were right there on the page! I LOVED IT. i think this is my favorite novel of all time. which is not saying a whole lot because there is a ton of pretentious bullshit out there and i bet mrs. durham will force us to read it all. man i hate that bitch.

    today i am 20 years old. life is great as usual. just enjoyed my wednesday morning wake-and-bake session with j-p, the sun is shining, the san diego weather is beautiful, and tonight i'm off to rob & gregg's to destroy them at bullshit. love that game! gregg says that joelle will be there (yes!) but she'll probably bring that prick pete with her. one of these days i'm going to lose it and kick his ass. "i'm in a band"...fuck you, pete! i will never spin your records.

    all i have on the agenda today is to go to the gym and then off to keracik's american lit class. it is not a bad class, although it is nowhere close to gender studies with halberstam. or davidoff's survey of modern postmodernism last semester. now that was a class! it blew my mind. so many things to think about. the reading in american lit has been okay. but we've been assigned to read Catcher in the Rye and

    . can't believe i ever liked this book. caulfield is a whiny little bitch. the book has no depth. there is literally nothing going on with the narrative, style, theme, characterization, it is just one rote cliché after another. he thinks he is such a rebel-without-a-cause but in reality he is just another tired representation of rootless, stereotypical masculinity and gender essentialism. completely inane and without meaning. i think my essay will use some acker-style postmodernist techniques to show how simplistic this trite "classic" truly is. i'm going to deconstruct the shit out of this novel, baby!

    today i am 25 years old. another gray, drizzly san francisco morning. i wish christopher would wake up, i really need to talk to him after all that shit last night. notes on my pillow, really?? time to grow up dude, i will never "complete you". well actually i'm glad he's still asleep, my throat is too sore to get into it right now with him. plus Food Not Bombs is happening this morning and i have to get the kitchen ready. john is probably hard at work already, typical over-achieving behavior. i bet the wisconsin kids are still crashing on our living room floor. it's time for them to leave! they've seen The Vindictives at every single Epicenter or Gilman show now and it is time for them to hit the road. or learn to take a shower. this apartment is not the world's crashpad!

    i woke up early this morning and thumbed through A Catcher in the Rye. i remember hating this book in college for some reason. probably wasn't po-mo enough for me. or "challenging". feh. what a pretentious idiot i was. this is a beautiful book. it changed my life as a kid, i'm not sure how i would have survived orange county without it. just re-reading parts of it brought back all that old angst about all the fucked-up shit in the world that kids have to deal with. i'm not sure there is another book as insightful or as meaningful. or funny! that part with the clipping-of-the-toenails is hilarious. ackley is such a douche. this book is the foundation of every zine that i have ever loved. a perfect novel. it is so...."human", i guess.

    today i am 30 years old. man my head hurts...so hungover! my birthday party last night was awesome. even got to spend some time on the turntables (thanks kraddy for actually relinquishing a tiny bit of control for once). i must have made out with a half-dozen people. sadly, no real action. i think last night's party will be the last big party i will ever throw. things have got to change. no more partying like the world is about to end, i still have my entire life ahead of me! tomorrow i am going to go into AIG and hand in my notice. i am not an entertainment insurance underwriter,

    . fuck them. if erika can get me that job working with homeless kids at Hospitality House, than i am set. although moving from the biggest room in the flat to the water heater closet will be no fun. i'm 30 years old now for chrissakes! still, i've got to do something meaningful with my life. it cannot all be about booze, drugs, hooking up, and paying everyone's rent when they're broke. things have got to change.

    i cracked open A Catcher in the Rye yesterday before the party and read some of my favorite parts. what an inspiration! seriously, that is a classic novel. it is packed with meaning. i'm twice caulfield's age but i still somehow connect with him in a very direct way. my life is going to change and the attitude expressed in that book is at the heart of that change. i love you, holden caulfied. it's not too late for me to learn from you, to find some meaning in life.

    today i am 35 years old. another intense, sad, but deeply fulfilling week has passed. every day something meaningful happens, something so emotional and real. sometimes i find myself just losing it in a fetal position because of the things i've seen. working with people who are drug addicted or who have been abused or who are dying is HEAVY. but it is also beautiful. it's hard to believe i am dealing with all of that and supporting my folks too. thank God i have good friends to talk to about these things. anyway. so now marcy wants to have a kid. i just don't know how i feel about that. this is such a fucked up world, do we really want to bring new life into it? i dunno. it seems....selfish, somehow. she should just quit her job with the d.a.'s office and get back to her roots in the public defender's office instead. does she think that having a child with me will bring more meaning into her life? my life has meaning enough already. and i really am not sure i can handle that responsibility on top of everything else.

    i skimmed A Catcher in the Rye yesterday, after an awkward talk with marcy about having a baby. it was not an inspiring read. caulfield is so full of misplaced angst! i'm not sure i even understand him anymore. why is he so pissed off? he's seen nothing of the world and what the world can actually do to people. i want to like him, i want to re-capture that feeling of affection i had for him, but now his contempt and his anger just seem so meaningless, so naive. he really does not have it so bad. there is so much worse out there. i don't know how i would handle a kid like that. i hate to say it, but i constantly rolled my eyes when reading it. oh the emotional self-absorption of youth! just you wait, caulfield. it sure gets a hell of a lot more complicated once you grow up.

    today i am 40 years old. when did i become a boss? it is like i woke up one day, mysteriously transformed into an old man. am i really a "leader"? what does that even mean? sometimes i feel like i am just faking it all and someone is going to figure it out and blow the whistle on me. last week i made a huge play on the Council, i had all my ducks in a row, and all the votes came in just as i had planned. everyone has their own agenda and the way to get things done is simply to recognize and engage with that disappointing fact. some folks got up and started clapping and then the whole room joined in, even council members who voted against my motion - feh, phonies. the experience was sort of amazing but it also made me feel very odd, almost disconnected from myself. is this who i am now, a public policy figure, a community advocate, a mayoral appointee? ugh, i can't stand the mayor. i don't feel like me. there is accomplishment there, and some satisfaction... but i am missing something, something visceral, something real. sweet Jesus, is this what a mid-life crisis feels like? it is a weird feeling, like i know everything that i need to know about the world, about the people around me, how everything connects, but yet i still feel like i know so little about life. oh, such angst, mark. surely you've outgrown this?

    i've started re-reading A Catcher in the Rye. it's so strange, during different parts, i felt like crying. a wonderful and moving novel. i feel like i really understand holden, like he is my guide, my son, my brother, my friend... myself. i think of him and i know that change in the world and changing myself can still happen. it just has to happen. that's life after all, right?


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