Salinger Does Europe: Vol. 1

So I’ve got this project.

My reading material for this trip is the complete published works (minus a couple post-mortem releases) of J. D. Salinger. Here’s the plan: I’ll read them all again (there are four) and leave one in a public place in each of the four nations I visit, along with a postcard from the previously-visited nation featuring some notes from me.
Salinger is one of my favorite authors, and I really wanted to do some deeper repeated reading on this trip, as opposed to light vacation reading (though I did bring one of those for the long haul flights to/from Europe). This seemed perfect. It also means I get to progressively lighten my pack along the travel, to allow for those small acquisitions along the way.
Yesterday I abandoned Catcher in the Rye at a coffee shop in Prenzlauer Berg, with a postcard review from Oslo. Fun! Now I’m re-reading Nine Stories in preparation for London.
This was only the second time I’d read Catcher in the Rye. It was the first one of Salinger’s books that I ever read, and I HATED it the first time. It really put me off Salinger, to tell the truth. It wasn’t until much later when I read Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters/Seymour, an Introduction that I really fell in love with his work. Since then he’s become, as mentioned above, one of my very favorite authors. I’ve read all his stuff multiple times, but I never went back to Catcher in the Rye — I’d totally written it off.
I think it’s kind of a shame that that’s the one of his books everyone starts with, in school or whatever. I really don’t think it’s his best work. I will say, though, that upon second reading and with the benefit of knowledge of his other work, I really appreciated it this time in a different way… I’d put it on a continuum of three books that would make an amazing set:
•Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (the absolute BEST capture of the world of an adolescent boy, hands down);
•Catcher in the Rye by Salinger (a truly flawless examination of the mind of a post-adolescent boy growing up through severe trauma and trying — and mostly failing — to cope);
•The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (a brilliant look through the eyes of a mentally disabled boy/man).
You could also make it a four-part set an stick Lord of the Flies on at the beginning, if you wanted… hurrah for reading! And for traveling!

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