Month: January 2011

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger


I read this way, way back in college, in my freshman years actually. What compelled me to read it is the controversy that this novel got itself into. Banned in various lists and libraries the supposed profanity, and seen in the hands of John Lennon’s murderer, that is enough for me to get curious. Plus numerous recommendations from a lot of people.

I used to claim that I like this novel, but when I really think about it, I am not really sure why. Maybe I just say that I like it to appear intellectual, and that is sheer phoniness, I know. And I am really reluctant to write something about it. Now, let me see.

The Rhapsody

Holden Caulfield. He’s the protagonist, the guy who ran away from school, the guy who went around New York, the guy who hated phoniness. That’s what I mostly remember about it. Phoniness.

I do not even remember the profanities. Goddammit is not very profane to me. I don’t even remember seeing the word fuck, which could have been there, but I am not really sure about that. Besides, the book is written in the first person, so it’s really understandable that those words appear with each flip of the page.

What really bothers me is that I do not really understand why is it entitled as such. There is this kid singing this song with a line that shares the title. And then there is this scene, specifically a thought, about kids falling in a wheat field, or maybe a rye field, and Holden just wants to catch these kids every time they fall.

A friend really likes that part. Unfortunately, I don’t. I appreciate it though, but I cannot like it because it’s just not my taste. Now that I am trying to recall the experience that I had with this book, I remember liking that part, too. Well, things change, and when I admitted to myself that I might not have really understood this novel, that’s when I also realized that I didn’t really like that part.

How can anyone like something that he does not understand? Some lines can be appealing because of diction and sound, but the thought is the ultimate measure in liking something. I think I got the thought though, that Holden doesn’t want a future founded on phoniness, that he wants to save kids from the misery that such phoniness can bring, that he actually loves these kids.

Despite all the angst muddled here and there, despite all the turmoil that you might see on the surface, Holden loves people. He does, doesn’t he? That’s what I suppose. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been so anxious and he wouldn’t have wanted to be this catcher that he envisions himself to be.

Since that side of Holden is not really obvious, a lot of people take this book literally. They literally attack people whom they think are phony. I do not know the life story of John Lennon’s murder, who is a good example of this, but for crying out loud, reading should be done out of entertainment. Fiction shows us a lot of truths, but that doesn’t mean that we should take them as they are served.

I think the book has a lot of appeal because of its tone and mood. With all that teenage anxiety broiling, Holden Caulfield seems like a very real person. However, he only exists in the pages and in the mind, if one allows it. So yes, The Catcher In The Rye should be a reminder that literal thinking is lethal.

3 star - liked itFinal Notes

I would still recommend this book to some people, although not as fervently as I would with other books. Besides, people with refined book choices might have already read it and might have better thoughts about it than me. I remember recommending it to a classmate who reads Nora Roberts and Jude Deveraux. She didn’t like it. I ended up trying to explain it to her. It got to the point that I detailed some parts with my animated storytelling. She just nodded impatiently and she was just like, okay, yeah, I prefer my romance over that kind of book.

Lessons learned: don’t shove things into others’  throats and know when to keep your thoughts to yourself. Anyway, I think I should give this book a second reading. I read it too early, when I recently graduated from commercial books. And when I do that, I hope I can read it right, that is if I haven’t read it right in the first place.

Possession – A. S. Byatt

Possession - A. S. Byatt

Possession - A. S. Byatt

Date Started: January 24, 2011. 12:15 AM.

I kept scanning the pages of this book prior to reading. And there are poems, lines from the Victorian period, and some paragraphs that I find a little hard to understand. I imagine reading Possession to be a daunting task.

It was indeed daunting, but after a few chapters, the pace built up. I was even excited, my eyes were rushing ahead the current sentence that my head was reading. And then after a hundred pages, I was lost again. I’ll keep reading though. A friend promised this to be a good read. I will bite his head off in the event that I develop brain tumors out of this.

The Helmet Of Horror: The Myth Of Theseus And The Minotaur – Victor Pelevin

The Helmet Of Horror: The Myth Of Theseus And The Minotaur - Victor Pelevin

The Helmet Of Horror: The Myth Of Theseus And The Minotaur - Victor Pelevin

Who bought it: Nobody. Well, it’s a contest prize from Jessica Zafra’s blog.

What is it: A science fiction by a Russian author. It’s a retelling of mythology, I think. It looks really interesting, it’s like reading Internet chat room conversations.

When: January 22, 2011

Where: National Book Store – Power Plant Mall

Why: Well, it’s a freebie for my writing efforts. Is it so wrong to crave for rewards and recognition?

How much: Free, but if we factor in the transportation expenses, around Php 80.00. I had to hail two taxis because I didn’t know the Rockwell area.

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

The Shipping News – Annie Proulx


The Shipping News has a movie adaptation. When I first saw the movie poster in the early 2000’s, I wanted to watch it so badly. There’s Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore! At that time, I didn’t know that it was based on a novel, and for some reason, I was not able to watch it, too.

Maybe because I was destined to read the novel first and download the movie later. Looking back, The Shipping News is probably the start of my addiction to books and my lifetime goal of collecting all the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Rhapsody

Quoyle is dumb. Quoyle is stupid. Quoyle was left by his wife. Quoyle does not have any real talent. There he is, the main character of the novel.

But you still root for him. He is like a cousin to you, the cousin who never played pranks on you and who only has good intentions for you.

But he really is stupid. Well, that’s what I remember mostly about him. But don’t get me wrong. He is not a mental retard; he’s just not someone you’d like to have an intellectual conversation with over coffee.

And boy, I am so annoyed with his daughter. He has two, and one of them is named Bunny. Now, who would name a daughter Bunny, except if you are intellectually challenged? Anyway, I am not sure if it is Bunny that exasperated me or the other daughter. That girl is a petulant one sent above from the deepest pits of hell. She is capable of evil, and it shows in her actions. I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns out to be a syndicate queen when she grows up.

But in the novel, there can only be a remote place for things like that. The novel is first set in the suburbs, until Quoyle’s wife left them. Then they move to Canada. Or not. I am not sure. I even think it’s somewhere near Nova Scotia. That’s still Canada, right?

So you get the picture. A rural town filled with winding roads, boats, frozen rivers, boats, icebergs, boats, glacial stuff, boats. And there’s a woman named Wavey, the next love interest of Quoyle. I no longer remember if they ended up together, but this is what I am sure of: Quoyle landed a job as a journalist in the local paper.

The little town didn’t have a lot to report except for a string of vehicular accidents. These accidents are like their politics. The people of the town read it with much interest, or so the local journalists thought. Come to think of it, journalism can shape the way you think, and if you see accident after accident on the papers, then what are the readers inclined to think about?

The novel goes on like that. Quoyle writing articles despite his inability to do so, Quoyle having his own column entitled “The Shipping News” that is about the arrival and departure times of ships in their coastal town, Quoyle sending his daughters to a daycare where Wavey works, and Quoyle trying to build a life in the decrepit, mysterious, and living ancestral house that his line left to him. How he had the idea of getting in there, I no longer recall. I do not even remember how he found out that this living house belongs to his ancestors.

I use the word living here because the house is really alive. Think of a haunted house. There should be ghosts in a haunted house, right? The ghosts can bring a sort of life in the house, but in this novel, the house itself is alive.

That’s not the end of the house affairs yet. The house was transferred by his ancestors from a different place to where it is now. No, it was not deconstructed and reconstructed. It was pulled with ropes and logs, and for what reason, I can barely recall. I think it has something to do with the family being a boon in the society and thrown off by the townspeople.

So in the end, the house self-destructs, someone dies and gets back to life, Quoyle becomes the editor-in-chief, and you close the book and say, “Good job, Quoyle!”

4 star - really liked itFinal Notes

I am particularly fond of this novel because at the beginning of each chapter, there is a description of various types of knots that are integrated into the development of the plot. Slip knots, granny knots, whatnots. Also, when I think of Quoyle, I remember that time in my sophomore year when I was not accepted in the high school publication. I am not saying that I can write better than most people, but I was devastated by it.

Then I switched schools. I made it in my new high school’s publication, won some journalism contests, and became the editor-in-chief after a year.

So you might want to ask, what does this novel imply to me? I think it’s about coming to terms with your past. Quoyle was haunted by the sins of his ancestors, tormented by the pain that her ex-wife wrought on him, reminded of the squalor of his earlier life, and pulled back by his inability at a lot of things. He got over those by moving on, crossing over, and starting anew. The destruction of that ancestral house is the ultimate metaphor for that, and it is also one of my favorites.

Not only that, this novel proves that you don’t have to be a genius to be successful. Well, success is relative. Nevertheless, being happy still does not require a lot of intellectual capacity.

One Hundred Years Of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years Of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years Of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

Date Started: January 18, 2011. Around 2 AM.

I was warned of long sentences, unnoticeable shifts in plot, confusing characters, and soporific chapters. The first 80 pages were delightful, downright humorous, and deeply interesting.

A friend is claiming a spectacular ending. Let’s see.