When I was a teen, The Catcher in the Rye saved me. If not my life, my sanity. It showed me that I wasn’t alone in being alone. (This became the theme of my autobiographical novel Saved by the Music.)
I told an acquaintance how much Catcher meant to me. She scoffed and said, “Seriously? All serial killers love that book.”
I returned, “Surely people other than serial killers and I have loved it.”
She looked at me with pity and changed the subject.
Okay, not everyone gets Catcher. Maybe it’s a litmus test for character. I’m not going to petition for it. Either you feel it or you don’t. But one can’t argue that the book holds up. Why? Because of its authenticity. We feel for Holden in his fight for integrity amidst the phonies, even though he cannot bear the truth about himself.
Thinking about some recent experiences as I drove today, I had a revelation about the phonies: They don’t know they’re phonies. They believe the b.s. they spout. They are consumed in the falseness they’ve engulfed themselves in. How sad for them.