Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger, Mr. Yochum and Holden Caufield...

I just read that J.D. Salinger died yesterday. I know very little about J.D. Salinger and I think that goes for most people. I know that he spent most of his life shut in from the public eye...I also know he wrote my favorite book of all time, The Catcher in the Rye. Anyway, I felt an odd feeling of sadness when I found out about his death today. There are certain famous people (Paul McCartney) who's deaths will really affect me, but I didn't think Salinger's would cause any reaction at all.

When I was growing up I hated reading for school. To tell you the truth, I'm still not wild about reading. However, when I was a sophomore in high school I had an English teacher named Mr. Yochum and he made us read The Catcher in the Rye. This was the first time I can remember really wanting to read. I wanted to know what was going to happen next to Holden Caufield and I wanted to be able to participate in the next day's class. The combination of Mr. Yochum and J.D. Salinger was unbelievable, maybe not to all of the kids in my class...but certainly to me. Mr. Yochum was an awesomely sarcastic teacher and we all thought he was hilarious. Through Mr. Yochum's teaching and Salinger's creation of Holden Caufield...I learned to like reading...at least a little. Actually, I ended up being an English major as some of you know, not so much because I liked reading, but because the English teachers at Centre are quite possibly the best set of professors on the planet. I wasn't a great English major...but I got by. Perhaps if more people had written like Salinger (or Salinger had just written more) I would have earned better grades. Probably not...
Anyway, I re-read Catcher in the Rye a few summers ago and I remember enjoying it even more then I did the first time. I was looking at quotes from Holden online earlier...here are some of my favorites:

"I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible."

"
When I really worry about something, I don't just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I don't go. I'm too worried to go. I don't want to interrupt my worrying to go."

"
All morons hate it when you call them a moron."

"
Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a toilet seat."

"
I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can."

"
There isn't any night club in the world you can sit in for a long time unless you can at least buy some liquor and get drunk. Or unless you're with some girl that really knocks you out."

"
People always clap for the wrong things."

"
I'm always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though."

"
The thing is, it's really hard to be roommates with people if your suitcases are much better than theirs - if yours are really good ones and theirs aren't. You think if they're intelligent and all, the other person, and have a good sense of humor, that they don't give a damn whose suitcases are better, but they do. They really do. It's one of the reasons why I roomed with a stupid bastard like Stradlater. At least his suitcases were as good as mine."

"
If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late? Nobody."

"
"You ought to go to a boy's school sometimes. Try it sometime," I said. "It's full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the goddam intellectuals stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that belong to the goddam Book-of-the-Month Club stick together.""

"
People never give your message to anybody"

"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."

"If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the 'F**k you' signs in the world. It's impossible."

"
Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

What a great book. You really should read it sometime. However, you might want to call Mr. Yochum and see if he'll discuss it with you when you're done. It makes it better.


Song of the Day: Belle & Sebastian - Piazza, New York Catcher

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