Catcher

Apologies for posting videos 2 days in a row, but if you haven’t seen this yet, click play and have some laughs.

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Aside from the pure entertainment value in this clip, Tobias Wolff makes an interesting point about how we find the books we come to love.  I don’t recall reading many of the literary books assigned in my high school English classes, not even the most basic Shakespeare.  I read a lot of classics when I was little — HEIDI and BLACK BEAUTY and the like — but by the time I was 13 I’d already moved on to forbidden authors (forbidden, at least, by my Catholic school teachers) like Sydney Sheldon and Jackie Collins.  There’s no way I was putting down LUCKY or CHANCES or RAGE OF ANGELS to read a skinny little JD Salinger paperback about an unhappy teenaged boy.  * ho hum *

I finally read CATCHER IN THE RYE a couple of years ago (at age 40-something) and all I can say is that I struggled to get to the last page.  I’m ashamed to admit this, but when it was finally, painfully, over I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t get it.”  I’m pretty sure he was appalled.

What classic work of literature do you hate to admit hating?

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18 thoughts on “Catcher

    1. Teri Post author

      I barely got Moby-Dick at age 40. (though I admit I appreciate it a great deal) But I can’t even imagine reading Moby-Dick in high school.

      1. jess3872

        It’s a book I will definitely reread someday soon to see if I have a different reaction at 41. I recently read “The Great Gatsby” again and liked it much more than I remembered. I love that you mentioned Jackie Collins! I read “Hollywood Wives” as a teenager and was hooked on her novels for years.:)

      2. Teri Post author

        I still remember exactly where I was when I read LUCKY. It was summer and about 100 degrees. I was staying at a friend’s house and sleeping on a mattress on a floor, no air-conditioning, but I didn’t budge from that mattress for 3 days, until I finished that book!! I barely slept.

  1. Tracy LeGrand

    Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was so boring and had to read it for a class at Mizzou – barely got through it. Also only read half of Les Miserables, enough to pass the quiz. Teri, I thought of you with the “literary” book I’m loving and reading right now: The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

    1. Teri Post author

      Oh lord, Heart of Darkness. I also read it in college, though I was about 35 by then, and I don’t remember hating it so much as not caring. I know it’s all about evil and dark heart of man and all that, but ….

      (I feel like I’m blaspheming all over this blog today. And you know, it’s kind of fun!)

      And of course I’m off immediately to find this Erin McKean book… 🙂

  2. Paul Lamb

    Catcher, and just about all of Hemingway, and The Great Gatsby. Just didn’t see what the fuss was about, and I gave all of those serious, repeated efforts. Moby Dick, on the other hand, I have loved several times. I can see why people have devoted careers to understanding that novel.

    1. Teri

      While I appreciate Hemingway’s economy of words, his stories don’t do much for me either. As for Moby-Dick, I can absolutely see the allure. I imagine rereading that book a few times over in my later years — it’s like a giant puzzle you can just keep putting together and taking apart, over and over again. I still remember the chapter “The Sermon” like I read it yesterday.

  3. Averil Dean

    I finally got around to reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I liked it, but definitely did not fall in love the way I expected to. Same thing with Moby Dick, though I remember reading and falling hard for Billy Budd.

    1. Teri

      It’s so fascinating how we do or don’t fall in love with a book. A woman recently told me she couldn’t finish Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres; she was bored. I loved that book the first and second time through, and I’ve listened to it dozens (no kidding, dozens) of times on my iPod while walking the dogs. I can quote entire sections, yet the other woman could not make it through once.

      Falling in love = a mystery

      1. Averil Dean

        I meant to tell you about Jennifer Egan’s book, A Visit From the Goon Squad. So, so good. Don’t be put off by the description (or anything else). It’s a story about families, connectedness, American culture, aging. Absolutely beautiful writing. I think you’d really like it.

  4. girl in the hat

    It’s not classic yet, but I tried to get through Gilead by M Robinson twice– I paid big bucks to get it in hardback when it first came out (because I loved Housekeeping so, so much) and ditched it, then I found a copy of it on the sidewalk and took it as a sign (but no, not the sign I thought I’d found). I just don’t get it. *sigh* Admitting you don’t get something everyone else does takes courage. It’s like revealing your intellectual achilles heel.

    1. Teri Post author

      While I can see the allure of Robinson’s work, I’m not as enamored as most. I didn’t love Housekeeping, but I read it for a class and appreciated it a great deal, enjoyed the discussions we had about it. As much as I tend to love quiet, character-driven stories ….

      It used to make me feel inadequate and small when I didn’t get “great books” that other people totally get and adore, but the older I get the less I care. So many books, so many modes of appreciation, though I admit it’s a little stab in the heart when someone hates a book I love. Ouch. 😉

  5. sherrystanfastanley

    I’d be ashamed (especially in this crowd) to admit how many classics I really didn’t love–and couldn’t even finish. For starters: the couple I read by Jane Austen. Granted, they were back in high school. I keep telling myself I should try one again.

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