Thursday, June 25, 2009

Holden Losing His Hold?

We have been keeping track on this page (see here, here, and here) of efforts to publish 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, a takeoff on J.D. Salinger’s best-selling novel, Catcher in the Rye. But as The New York Times observes, Salinger’s teenage protagonist, Holden Caulfield, “may have bigger problems than the insults of irreverent parodists and other ‘phonies,’ as Holden would put it.” Writes Jennifer Schuessler:
Even as Mr. Salinger, who is 90 and in ailing health, seeks to keep control of his most famous creation, there are signs that Holden may be losing his grip on the kids.

“The Catcher in the Rye,” published in 1951, is still a staple of the high school curriculum, beloved by many teachers who read and reread it in their own youth. The trouble is today’s teenagers. Teachers say young readers just don’t like Holden as much as they used to. What once seemed like courageous truth-telling now strikes many of them as “weird,” “whiny” and “immature.”

The alienated teenager has lost much of his novelty, said Ariel Levenson, an English teacher at the Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Holden’s home turf. She added that even the students who liked the book tend to find the language--“phony,” “her hands were lousy with rocks,” the relentless “goddams”--grating and dated.

“Holden Caulfield is supposed to be this paradigmatic teenager we can all relate to, but we don’t really speak this way or talk about these things,” Ms. Levenson said, summarizing a typical response. At the public charter school where she used to teach, she said, “I had a lot of students comment, ‘I can’t really feel bad for this rich kid with a weekend free in New York City.’ ”
The full Times article can be found here.

READ MORE:Oh, Holden. Life Is Still So Hard for You,”
by John Green.



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