bschaller at ltoa dot com
Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Learning to Live With Holden and Other Ghosts...

If I have learned one thing in my life so far, it is that everyone likes The Beatles and The Catcher in the Rye. I will continue to believe that everything The Beatles released before Rubber Soul is complete trash until the day I die. However I have decided that Salinger is worth a little more thought and meditation. It is not the fact that I want to like the book, I am just curious why everyone else does. Armed with my Little Brown paperback edition and a couple of hours, I decide to investigate. Here is what I found.
Being new to the "I read two books a week" club I am very picky, almost snobbish about prose. I found this to be a problem with Strip City and it was a definite issue here. The 1950's were a long time ago. In understand the whole period piece thing and how TCitR was banned for Holden saying "goddam" a lot. This was more boring than risque to me. I realize that if Salinger had used "fucking" instead of "goddam" and "like a motherfucker" instead of "like hell" it probably would not have rubbed me wrong. Since it was written half a century ago and I decided to let up on being a snob. I have let my prose objection go. That makes the book easier to like for sure.
However there was still this problem of Holden Caulfield. The problem was people, and a lot of them at that, kept telling me how they liked Holden and how they could empathize and relate to him. Now had this been some random Beatles loving people I could understand their poor taste and just move on. The problem was I liked and respected these people. I not sure if it was for their sake or mine, but I had to unravel this mystery. After a lot of thought and couple trips down memory lane this is what I came up with. I am not Holden Caulfield. A quick side not: If you want to watch a movie about a poor schmuck who thinks he is check out Chasing Holden. It stars DJ Qualls from The New Guy and cheetah skinning fame. By the way, it is terrible. Like I said before, I am not Holden Caulfield, but I was, kinda. In my quest to become to delightful, well-adjusted young professional that I am today, I am just a wee bit guilty of sweeping my past into a nice dusty closet with a very thick door.
Let me just start by saying the fact that I graduated high school has got to be something close to a miracle. I am still not quite sure how I pulled that off. I think they passed me out of pity or something. It is not that I did poor work, I did no work. And as most of you know, college was not for me. I do regret this decision (or lack there of) because I think I would have enjoyed it. I never went on an extended weekend hiatus around Manhattan or even ice skating at Radio City, but I do remember ditching out for a day or two at times, or at the very least threatening it. I was also not always the suave and debonair fellow you know today. Although I never wore a hunting hat, peak to the back, or had a run in first hand with a prostitute, I do remember being a 17 year old kid wearing a Sarah McLaughlin t-shirt and thinking that somehow this made me cool and I should get all the ladies. Even though it did work out one time (with that shirt), I was far from a lady killer. If you want to go back to the days of middle school it gets much worse. The thought of most of that time stills makes me shudder with intense embarassment. The Byron of today is not the Byron of yesteryear. For those of you who knew me then all I can say is sorry and thanks for sticking around. Relating to Holden is something I didn't really want to do, but I guess it is the truth. I should probably thank him for saving me years of regression therapy. I guess this proves my theory that reading is some scary shit. I am too deep in it now to stop so I might as well ride this one out.
I finished Honky last night and a review and discussion is probably going to be posted tomorrow or later today if I get bored. I also started to read Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Diving right back into my own past. I will off a full review when I am done probably early next week or late this week. I do have to comment on the first chapter though. It is about how he had to take speech therapy as a child in elementary school. Most of you have no idea what I am talking about so I will explain. Speech Therapy is where they teach you to speak normal. In Sedaris' case he had a lisp in my case I could barely fucking speak. I stutter. In case you missed that, I s-s-s-s-s-stutter. It is probably the worst affliction in the world next to gangrene or herpes or something. I have come along way and most people I know don't know this about me. I still do it. If you think that public speaking is hard when you have glossophobia, try not even being able to get a "goddam" word out. It was nice that someone else knew what having a "special" session that dragged you out of class to read kindergarden books is like. Maybe one day I'll write a humorous account of my childhood to teach and entertain others. However, before I start that I have a few issues I still have to work through myself. Sedaris also tells this story with great humor and self deprecation. I am sure I will enjoy this book and the whole reading thing in general. Look for the Honky post soon. B

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