The verité of Salinger’s dialogue surpasses the best in Lewis’ Babbitt, Fitzgerald’s Gatsby and in anything else I’ve read... even Hemmingway. No wonder teens loved it. No wonder adults wanted it banned. Holden Caulfield’s world view is of a phony society, full of phony people with phony values. I counted the word phony; it appears 48 times in the 234 page novel.
To read Catcher in the Rye is to travel with, listen to and get to know and become friends with Salinger’s protagonist. I’ve read Catcher several times; the first at age 16... Holden Caulfield’s age. I loved it then but didn’t know why. At 21, I loved it, responding to the alienated youth theme. Later, I loved it, finding beauty in the dialogue. At 55, I loved it, reading Catcher and weeping; really, I wept, feeling the boy’s pain. He was disappointed by a much admired older brother, a writer, who “prostituted” himself by working as a Hollywood screen writer. He was abandoned by a younger brother whom he truly loved when leukemia stole the boy away. As he planned to run off to a cabin in the woods, he faced the loss of his baby sister for whom he cared deeply. In 2017, I saw humor in the story and loved it still.
This is magnificent writing. Catcher in the Rye is a must read.