The Audio Book Club on J.D. SalingerOur critics discuss The Catcher in the Rye.
By Stephen Metcalf, Troy Patterson, and James RyersonPosted Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, at 1:50 PM ET
Reclusive author J.D. Salinger died Jan. 27 at the age of 91. Last September, Slate critics Stephen Metcalf and Troy Patterson, and James Ryerson of the New York Times Magazinegathered to discuss Salinger’s most famous and influential novel: perennial high school favorite The Catcher in the Rye. Their conversation is reprinted below.
This month, the Audio Book Club tackles J.D. Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher in the Rye. This massive cultural touchstone’s protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is the iconic teenage rebel. (Stephen argues that you can find traces of Holden in all the works of Wes Anderson, the films Tadpoleand Igby Goes Down, and the novel Prep.) It’s also a market phenomenon, with about 250,000 copies sold each year and total sales of more than 65 million.
But Catcher's influence may be on the decline. In a reported New York Times piece this summer, Jennifer Schuessler argued that adolescents are no longer so taken with Holden or with Salinger’s writing. Are kids today on to something? Is Catcher a phony? Or does the novel have lasting value?