Catcher in the Rye
April 26, 2008 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I've had tremendous luck polling all tens of thousands of you MeFites about literature, so here goes again. The Catcher in the Rye: Can anyone recommend any short stories, poems, or essays that would complement the themes of alienation, coming of age, general phoniness of us adults, etc.? Thanks!
posted by John of Michigan to Writing & Language (28 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin might be an interesting combo.
posted by prefpara at 12:26 PM on April 26, 2008

There's a great French book called Bille en tĂȘte. I don't know if there's an English translation.
posted by fantasticninety at 12:55 PM on April 26, 2008

The Little Prince has quite a bit to say about the phoniness of grown-ups.
posted by streetdreams at 12:56 PM on April 26, 2008

ZZ Packer's short story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is filled with stories that fit your description.
posted by The Gooch at 12:58 PM on April 26, 2008

A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
posted by Afroblanco at 1:10 PM on April 26, 2008

Also, The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
posted by Afroblanco at 1:16 PM on April 26, 2008

For general angst and introspection, I used to recite the following poem to myself...

Trauma by Brad Leithauser

You will carry this suture
Into the future.
The past never passes.
It simply amasses.
posted by amyms at 2:20 PM on April 26, 2008

Probably too obvious to mention, but other Salinger stuff: Nine Stories, Frannie and Zooie, etc., might be of interest.

Or how about some of Joan Didion's work in Slouching Toward Bethlehem?
posted by DarkForest at 2:50 PM on April 26, 2008

I recommend Franny and Zooey next. (Also, there's tons of un-republished Salinger stories here.) I'm teaching Franny and Zooey now, and we also read Annie Dillard's An American Childhood -- I recommend that, too.
posted by buriedpaul at 2:55 PM on April 26, 2008

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:57 PM on April 26, 2008

A Tolstoy themed reply:

I would recommend Family Happiness for coming of age. The Death of Ivan Ilych, for alienation.
posted by pedmands at 3:15 PM on April 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

They fuck you up, your mom and dad,
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had,
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn,
By men in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were sloppy-stern,
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands misery to man,
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

--Philip Larkin
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:34 PM on April 26, 2008 [3 favorites]

I love the Chocolate War, so I'll second that. But also check out the short story "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" by Allan Sillitoe.
posted by cachondeo45 at 4:22 PM on April 26, 2008

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is probably longer than you're looking for, but it goes well with Catcher in the Rye and is about growing up, alienation, mental illness and betrayal.

If you're wiling to expand your answer to films, I'd say Donnie Darko is similar thematically once you get past the weird sci-fi stuff, and there is also a movie called Chasing Holden about a boy who is obsessed with catcher in the Rye. It was much better than I was expecting and is somewhere between a critique of Catcher's impact and a fanfiction expansion of the story.

Finally, if you're going to look at more of Salinger's work, I'd recomend For Esmé with Love and Squalor as being wonderful and a short read.
posted by CheshireCat at 4:25 PM on April 26, 2008

The plot of King Dork by Frank Portman is intertwined with Cather in the Rye, so much so that the cover is meant to look partially like Catcher.
posted by drezdn at 5:29 PM on April 26, 2008

Cheesy teen novel by Steven Gould called "Jumper" -- don't watch the movie by the same name, it's nothing like the book.
posted by SpecialK at 5:32 PM on April 26, 2008

Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son is a collection of short stories about a guy called Fuck Head who wanders aimlessly around the US getting high and generally screwing up his life and the lives of people around him. It has an ethereal plot and a detached narrator which makes it quite a bit different than CITR. However, the mood is similarly dark and sarcastic. There's something mysterious about the merit of the narrator. Like Holden Caulfield, you might feel like you've known him even though you've never done any of the things described in the book (or maybe you have).

Or you might hate him like a lot of people because you don't like underdog worship ... or something. I think those folks just don't get it, man.
posted by metajc at 6:38 PM on April 26, 2008

a separate peace
the perks of being a wallflower
hairstyles of the damned
a prayer for owen meany (maybe?)
the unthinkable thoughts of jacob green
how i live now (kind of)
random acts of senseless violence
rule of the bone
Into the Great Wide Open
Rubyfruit Jungle
The Secret Life of Bees

i totally wanted to teach a lit class on this topic. guess i have to settle for this post. and i realize these aren't short works, but most of them are so good.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:50 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

beijing doll, a very interesting book writtne by a chinese girl. it was banned initially in china.
it is culturally interesting, and it's real. maybe not a literary classic, but very satisfying.
there is also a gret australian book i read a few years ago called "the best thing" but i cant rem who it was written by, so i guess it's a long shot.
posted by edtut at 7:16 PM on April 26, 2008

The Little Prince is an excellent match for what you want.
posted by oxford blue at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2008

Coming of age in the suburbs, dreaming of joining the Woodstock Nation: "White Angel" by Michael Cunningham.
posted by booth at 7:57 PM on April 26, 2008

S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders is the classic 8th grade pairing. Or you could try any of Judy Blume's oeuvre for a more mainstream adolescent take.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:06 PM on April 26, 2008

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
posted by doomtop at 10:32 PM on April 26, 2008

It's a graphic novel, but Ghost World maybe?
posted by SoftRain at 10:33 PM on April 26, 2008

A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt (no need to read the other books in the series first).
posted by invisible ink at 8:16 AM on April 27, 2008

Stop-time by Frank Conroy
posted by pianomover at 8:39 AM on April 27, 2008

Generation X by Douglas Coupland is frequently referred to as a modern Catcher in the Rye.
posted by bertrandom at 5:59 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

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