2) We use the word “classics” for those books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them.
In fact, reading in youth can be rather unfruitful, owing to impatience, distraction, inexperience with the product’s “instructions for use,” and inexperience in life itself. Books read then can be (possibly at one and the same time) formative, in the sense that they give a form to future experiences, providing models, terms of comparison, schemes for classification, scales of value, exemplars of beauty—all things that continue to operate even if the book read in one’s youth is almost or totally forgotten. If we reread the book at a mature age we are likely to rediscover these constants, which by this time are part of our inner mechanisms, but whose origins we have long forgotten. A literary work can succeed in making us forget it as such, but it leaves its seed in us.
(Written sometime in late 2013)
I invented a phrase “cesspool of its own crapulence” that best describes this book in five words, which is very much brief, apt and a thorough recognition of the nauseating effect it had on me and my perception of American literature in general. I wanted to gouge my eyes out every time the pretentious little brat, the protagonist Cauliflower-something said, “I got a bang out of that” or “phony.” Mr. rebellious-little-angsty-teenager got on the very last of my nerves, making me question the moment I decided to read this 200 page something existential debacle. Add to this a shoddy writing style, redundant cussing and the over-hyped inclusion in every “100 books to read before you die” list and you get a magnum opus of Salinger who was probably trying to garner bogus publicity after writing an essay on “About Me” for his 5-year old and getting baked afterwards.