20. June 2010 · Write a comment · Categories: book · Tags:

J. D. Salinger: The Catcher in the RyePenguin Books

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I read this book once, at the Wooton School, that had this very sophisticated, suave, sexy guy in it. Monsieur Blanchard was his name, I can still remember. It was a lousy book, but this Blanchard was pretty good. He had this big château and all on the Riviera, in Europe, and all he did in his spare time was beat women off with a club. He was a real rake and all, but he knocked women out. He said, in this one part, that a women’s body is like a violin and all, and that it takes a terrific musician to play it right. It was very corny book – I realize that – but I couldn’t get that violin stuff out of my mind anyway. In a way, that’s why I sort of wanted to get some practice in, in case I ever get married. Caulfield and his Magic Violin, boy. It’s corny, I realize, but it isn’t too corny. I wouldn’t mind being pretty good at that stuff. Half the time, if you really want to know the truth, when I’m horsing around a girl, I have a helluva lot of trouble just finding what I’m looking for, for God’s sake, if you know what I mean. Take this girl that I just missed having sexual intercourse with, that I told you about. It took me about an hour to just get her goddam brassiere off. By the time I did get it off, she was about ready to spit in my eye.

"You ought to go to a boys’ school sometime. Try it sometime," I said. "It’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the Catolic stick together, the goddam intellectuals stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that belong to the goddam Book-of-the-Month Club stick together. If you have a try to have a little intellgent -"

"Now, listen," old Sally said. "Lots of boys get more out of school than that."

"I agree! I agree they do, some of them! But that’s all I get out of it. See? That’s my point. That’s exactly my goddam point," I said. "I don’t get hardly anything out of anything. I’m in bad shape. I’m in lousy shape."

"You certainly are."

If you want to know the truth, I don’t even know why I started all that stuff with her. I mean about going away somewhere, to Massachusetts and Vermont and all. I probably wouldn’t’ve taken her even if she’d wanted to go with me. She wouldn’t have been anybody to go with. The terrible part, though, is that I meant it when I asked her. That’s the terrible part. I swear to God I’m a madman.

Old Phoebe said something then, but I couldn’t hear her. She had the side of her mouth right smack on the pillow, and I couldn’t hear her.

"What?" I said. "Take your mouth away. I can’t hear you with your mouth that way."

"You don’t like anything that’s happening."

It made me even more depressed when she said that.

"Yes I do. Yes I do. Sure I do. Don’t say that. Why the hell do you say that?"

"Because you don’t. You don’t like any schools. You don’t like a million things. You don’t."

"I do! That’s where you are wrong – that’s exactly where you’re wrong! Why the hell do you have to say that?" I said. Boy, was she depressing me.

"Because you don’t," she said. "Name one thing."

"One thing? One thing I like?" I said. "Okay."

The trouble was, I couldn’t concentrate too hot. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate.

"One thing I like a lot you mean?" I asked her.

She didn’t answer me, though. She was in a cockeyed position way the hell over the other side of the bed. She was about a thousand miles away. "C’mon, answer me," I said. "One thing I like a lot, or one thing I just like?"

"You like a lot."

"All right," I said. But the trouble was, I couldn’t concentrate.

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