Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Sunday Salon: Do Books Have a Time?

The Sunday

What Caught My Fancy This Week

Well this is rather sad. I have not posted anything since last week (well I have but I have taken it down). I will be better at it. My only defence is that I have been sick and school asploded on me.

time management

J.D. Salinger died this week and his death got me thinking. Not about death but about a conversation my brother and I once had about his book Catcher in the Rye. Let me set the scene for you: My brother is seven years younger than me. I was driving him home from school one day his senior year and for some reason we started talking about books and I confessed that I did not like Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caufield drove me insane. My brother on the other hand had really liked it. We started wondering if it was a boybook/girlbook thing. Boybook/girlbook has nothing to do with subject matter or intended audience, it is simply a very unscientific phenomena me and my highschool classmates discovered where all the girls would like a book and the boys would dislike it or vice versa (I wont veer off here and talk about gender construction but I will say I have some issues with this theory now) . As my brother and I continued the discussion however, we came to the realisation that he had read Catcher in the Rye in highschool while I had been in my early twenties. We wondered if perhaps our different reactions had to do with when in our lives we had read the book? My brother had been closer to Holden’s age whereas I had been older.

Do you think that there are some books that you have to be at a certain place in your life to enjoy? Or is it more to do with personality in general (my brother and I are pretty much polar opposites)?

From the Papers


The Guardian has an interview with Andrea Levy and The Times has a review of her book The Long Song. They also have a long article about the research that went into the novel. This book would work very well for the POC Challenge. This particular book is about slavery in Jamaica and I know that some of the criticism about books about and/or by POC is that it always harks back to slavery. I have only read one other book by Levy, Never Far From Nowhere. This book tells of the experience of two sisters growing up in London in the 1970s. The two sisters have very different experience of growing up. Olive is the older of the two girls and her skin is much darker than that of her sister Vivien’s. Personally I was not overly fond of the book because I felt that although Olive’s life was definitely changed by the way she was treated because of her colour she also had a sense of entitlement that rubbed me the wrong way. She expected her family to do things for her because she had been treated.

An article in Swedish paper DN in English about an ongoing argument regarding who actually wrote Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy (my reviews).

Did you read anything interesting in the papers this week?


Nymeth said...

It's probably both age and personality. I don't think it's gender, though :P I do think some books have a right time - it's not that you can't enjoy them later, but they hit you the most at a certain age (which won't necessarily be the same for every person). About Catcher, though, I'm a girl who first read it at 19 and 20 and still loved it to bits :P But I feel that way about Narnia, for example. I might have loved it as a child, but I came to it too late.

Anonymous said...

I think Catcher is a very peculiar book in that, depending on where you are in life, it can be the defining work of an age or a piece of garbage not worthy of being toilet paper. I've read it 3 times in my life, and at each time it was a completely different book to me. The first time, I was about 14 and just didn't get it. The second time, I was about 15 or 16 and it was like he was speaking to me! I thought it was the best book ever written, and soo would've been my 451 book. But then I read it again after becoming a mother, and suddenly I wanted to just smack the hell out of him. So it would seem you have to be a person who feels angst and put upon by those around you to really enjoy it.

As for what I've read in the papers this last week, the only thing that started a conversation was that our tiny town theater finally got Avatar in, and it was already going out on Thursday. We missed it, dang it!

Zee said...

Nymeth~I do now think it is more personality and less gender :) I do like Narnia but only some of the books. I don't like The Magician's Nephew. Never did. I prefer the books with Lucy in them. I think you have a point though, I read them (or had them read to me) as a child. Also the original tv series went on tv here several times when I was growing up.

thekoolaidmom~shame you missed Avatar, I finally saw it last night and it was great! Try and see it! I too want to smack Holden. And I think you have a point about the angst and feeling put upon. I probably should read it again though. I will soon find myself surrounded on a daily basis by those who feel angst and put upon aka teenagers :)

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

I hated Catcher when I read it in high school, but I have a problem with a lot of American literature that focuses on the banal. (I know it's about more than that, but still. Most of the time I just could not empathize with Holden.) I think that book might be just about a very particular experience, a very specific kind of emotion, frustruation, and sensibility; and perhaps personality has a lot do with whether the reader identifies with how Holden chooses to respond to circumstance. Having said that, I'm actually curious to take another look at the book. When I was younger, I much more needed to be able to empathize with the characters to "get" the book. But now, I think I might be able to appreciate it more for what it taps into, even if I didn't have that particular sensibility.

Aarti said...

There was an article I read some time ago that I can no longer find about Catcher no longer speaking to students as the book used to. About how the rebellion doesn't really get the attention any more. I definitely think some books hit you at a certain time in your life and can either cause a positive or negative response. Especially books assigned to you in school, when people's lives and maturity levels are so varied.