There was one passage towards the end of The Catcher in the Rye that made the whole book worth it because, honestly, it could’ve been me speaking.
What I'd do, I figured, I'd go down to the Holland Tunnel and bum a ride, and then I'd bum another one, and another one, and another one, and in a few days I'd be somewhere out West where it was very pretty and sunny and where nobody'd know me and I'd get a job. I figured I could get a job at a filling station somewhere, putting gas and oil in people's cars. I didn't care what kind of job it was, though. Just so people didn't know me and I didn't know anybody. I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn't have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they'd have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They'd get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then I'd be through with having conversations for the rest of my life. Everybody'd think I was just a poor deaf-mute bastard and they'd leave me alone. They'd let me put gas and oil in their stupid cars, and they'd pay me a salary and all for it, and I'd build me a little cabin somewhere with the dough I made and live there for the rest of my life. I'd build it right near the woods, but not right in them, because I'd want it to be sunny as hell all the time. I'd cook all my own food, and later on, if I wanted to get married or something, I'd meet this beautiful girl that was also a deaf-mute and we'd get married. She'd come and live in my cabin with me, and if she wanted to say anything to me, she'd have to write it on a goddam piece of paper, like everybody else. If we had any children, we'd hide them somewhere. We could buy them a lot of books and teach them how to read and write by ourselves.
I got excited as hell thinking about it. I really did. I knew the part about pretending I was a deaf-mute was crazy, but I liked thinking about it anyway.
The part about pretending to be a deaf-mute is indeed crazy, but it illustrates the desire to be left alone, or to be interacted with on his own terms.
Honestly, in my 40s, I still empathize with that feeling when the world gets overwhelming.
I like to wait to review a book I’ve read. I can usually give you some impressions right after I’m done, but for a review, I need to chew on it for a few days. I’m glad I took a few days to chew on The Catcher in the Rye, because from impressions to review, the gap was monumental.
At first, I wasn’t sure why this book was such a big deal. Holden Caulfield is every angsty 16-year-old boy railing against the world, and he has a unique voice that carries the entire novel. I commented that I was confused by the book because I kept expecting THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL it has become, but it wasn’t until I put myself in the mindset of someone reading this in the 50s. Holden is the original angsty teenage boy, the genesis of the trope; once I got that, the novel clicked for me.
The novel would’ve probably resonated more with me if I’d read it in high school or in my early 20s, when I was also an angsty teenage boy. Reading it now in my 40s (late 40s at that), Holden made me sad. He’s deep in the throes of depression, and spends all his time judging and hating others for not being who he thinks they should be (the irony being that he’s also not being who he thinks he should be). Then again, with an older brother who creates art yet is selling out in Hollywood, and a younger almost perfect brother who died, Holden doesn’t really have anyone to anchor him except for his little sister, the one ray of hope Holden holds on to.
The writing is excellent; Holden’s voice as he narrates what would otherwise be an absolutely mundane couple of days in New York City is raw and real, full of cursing and observations about a world he’s not quite sure how it works, yet suffers the full effects of. I can understand why people had a tizzy over the language in the book, although it’s terribly tame by our modern standards.
I’m glad I read it and stuck with it when I felt myself faltering, because I ended up really enjoying it.
Pretty much on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria (that’s today, btw), Puerto Rico just got hit by Hurricane Fiona (Sep 18). From what I’m seeing online, and hearing from friends and family on the island, the southern coast seems to have gotten the brunt of the storm, although I’ve seen pics of towns in the central mountains and northwest coast dealing with massive flooding, mudslides, and of course, the near-total loss of power.
My island is once again drowning, and the news channels are far more interested in a dead old woman in England.
My island is once again without power, and the American corporate oligarchs and the local corrupt and traitorous politicians are lining their pockets with blood money.
My island is once again in need, and I wonder when will it end.
My family is okay (thanks to those who asked), but my island, and my heart, are not.
I don’t know why, but I have this feeling inside of me that this week is a restart of something. Maybe it’s because last week was so busy at work and I barely had time to breathe, or maybe it’s because I’m feeling the best I have in ages. Whatever the reason, instead of fighting it, or brushing it off, I’m leaning into it, leaning into that restart energy.
There are a couple of practices I’d like to make a more regular part of my life, like journaling, reading the Bible, and writing, so let’s build them into my weekly schedule intentionally. I want to eat better, and I’ve let myself go, so let’s get on that once more. I want to be more frugal with my finances, so let’s work on that budget.
Lean into it. Any day is a good day to start again.
Four years ago we were gifted with Joy. It was an incredibly happy day, and also the start of one of the hardest periods of our lives. But here we are, four years later, and that Joy continues to grow, unbound, amazing, and blessed.
I finished reading Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames, and man, what a fun novel that was! This isn’t so much a review as my impressions.
KotW is about as good a D&D-ish novel can be. I don’t mean fantasy in general; even though it is nowhere acknowledged, if you know Dungeons & Dragons, you will see it all over these pages, and love it more for it. This novel is what D&D games tend to be like, what they wish they could be like, and I mean that in the best way possible.
The world of KotW is one of mercenary bands, adventuring parties, that are treated like we treat rock bands. They have names, gimmicks, frontmen/women, go on tours, and have fan bases. It takes the D&D adventuring party trope and goes all in, and it works beautifully.
The characters, a bunch of 40-something retired adventurers coming back together for one last gig, are relatable, especially for me as a 40-something reader with some of the same aches and pains. They talk and behave like the old friends they are, with problems and issues born out of a lifetime working together, without going into the in-fighting trope that plagues so many other stories.
The book does some other things really well, things I want to address individually later on, but as an overall read, even with some minor problems here and there, it is a great read in the genre with a unique twist that makes it stand out as its own thing. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in The Band series from Eames.
Leave room for the unexpected in life. I’m actually not very good at this. I’m not necessarily a planner, but I like a certain sense of normalcy and routine. I like spontaneity, too, but I get to decide that one. Unexpected curveballs throw me off, even if they are absolutely necessary.
Leave room for the unexpected in life. After 47 years, I’m still learning this lesson.
I always strive to have some time each day to write a little bit. Even if it’s just a couple hundred words, it’s good and it helps my mood. This week, though? This week I’m just happy to survive. Maybe on Friday, I’ll have some time to write for an hour or so, but otherwise, I’m just happy to get through each day with enough energy to spend time with my family in the evening and read a little before bed. Some weeks it be like that.