Catcher in the Rye: Why is every teenager still reading it? So asks an English teacher in Good Magazine who claims its only merits are that it is short, full of cuss words and wholly lacking in references to other books high schoolers have not read. Well, yeah!. Plus there are other literary works that have more cuss words and "social currency" than Catcher in the Rye. Like the Gossip Girl books and Lindsay Lohan's MySpace blog! So why won't it go away?My initial reaction to this would be that we read Catcher In The Rye because everyone on some level at some point loves Catcher In The Rye and we are fast running out of things we can say that about.* I am not quite sure why, I thought to myself upon scanning this essay. But high school will always need Salinger. Maybe because he actually himself had an eating disorder? I wasn't quite sure. And then I read this!
Like Didion, Steiner considered Catcher of minor literary merit. Its main appeal to students, he argued, is simply that the young like to read about the young, prefer short books, and ones without too many references to other books. Salinger, he says, "flatters [their] very ignorance and moral shallowness."
*After 'It's A Wonderful Life' and Gregor the bug and Jake Barnes and Guy Montag and the 'Law & Order' franchise (and let's be serious, that really means B.D. Wong and Mariska Hartigay, with moments of Ice-T) and maybe the movie 'Superbad', what do we have? The Homers, the 'Hamlet's, the Brangelinas, Michael Jordan, 'Dazed & Confused', the song "Bombs Over Baghdad," the Olympics and a few watered-down Bible stories. Oh yes, and melting clocks. That, my friends, is it. That and "Project Runway" and Holden Caulfield. Fucking Green Day knew that and I believe they still control high school.