Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Catcher in the Rye followup. Need I say more? Thought not. But I'm going to.



What bollockry is this?

As I was perusing the shelves and tables of Waterstones, a day or two ago, I chanced upon a tome that filled my gob with the foul taste of bile. A tome so hideously ill-conceived and despicable that I'd hesitate to fuel my hearth with its pages.

Its title is indication enough, perhaps:

60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye

– Yes, indeed. On 22 June (our unlucky friends across the Atlantic must wait until September, alack!), this monstrosity, penned by a 'John David California', was released in the UK. It's a follow up (you may've guessed) to JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye – a book the Intellectual Hooligan loves. It's internet fan-fiction, in other words, turned published pseudo-novel cash-in. Here's the 'teaser' description from Amazon (which teases me in about the same way as a frigging mosquito I'm about to CRUSH):

'A 76-year-old man wakes up in a nursing home in upstate New York. This seemingly normal day brings with it an unnerving compulsion to flee his present situation and embark on a curious journey through the streets of New York City. Powerless to resist these strange new urges, Holden Caulfield, like a decrepit marionette, finds himself in the midst of bizarre and occasionally depraved escapades. Is senility finally closing in or is some higher power controlling the chaos? 60 years after his debut as the great American anti-hero, Holden Caulfield is yanked back onto the page without a goddamn clue why.'

Like a decrepit marionette? What? As opposed to a youthful and sprightly marionette? Or a marionette that's generally in quite good nick, but suffering from a bit of arthritis and an ingrowing toenail? Or a marionette that gets scared walking across bridges and has a bit of a poorly tummy, but otherwise has few complaints?

MARIONETTES ARE INANIMATE. That's the whole point of your simile, surely?

And then the descent into cheap B-movie rhetorical questions. And that cheap-as-spit final sentence. Ugh.

Taste the bile, yet?

If not, all you have to do is open the book to its first chapter. Which I'll quote in its entirety, in order that you may grasp the full enormity of this book's rupture-inducing ghastliness:


'1.

I open my eyes and, just like that, I'm awake.'


I'm sorry. That is lamentable. Execrable. Like the worst precocious teenage novella I could possibly imagine.

Is your stomach beginning to calm, yet, after the first dry-heaves? If so, this fumblingly inelegant use of simile picked from the closing pages ought to push you right back to retchville:

'I feel myself warming up from the inside out and I feel my heart as if it's a small animal living deep inside me. Every little piece of me he warms up.'

Oh Jesus.

OH JESUS.

Was that supposed to be a comforting simile? If so, it was about as on-target as an typical English penalty shoot-out (sorry, footie fans, but you know it's true). The image of a small animal living deep inside one's chest is not a pleasant one. It doesn't make me think of beautiful, incipient paternal love. It makes me think of Alien. It makes me think of PARASITES.

If Shakespeare was a sculptor of the written word, this 'California' guy is a bloody wrecking ball.




Notice, I haven't yet even explored the realm of whether or not anyone should be writing a follow-up to Catcher in the Rye. This is because I don't think it's particularly worth exploring. Because anyone who actually wanted to write a follow-up to Catcher in the Rye would, by definition, do an apocalyptically shit job of it, being either (a) a teenager, (b) a dribbling, sentimental moron.

I don't think 'John David California' is a teenager.

Anybody who might possess even a modicum of the talent required to do justice (stylistically) to such an undertaking would also have the intelligence to steer well clear.

See, 'California': a character is not actually real. Holden Caulfield exists only in JD Salinger's words. Do you get this? There there. Don't cry. I know it's hard to accept. But the Holden Caulfield that shimmeringly exists in your brain is there because of the text written by Salinger. Salinger didn't just tap into the universal database of characters and pick him out. He's not there in some literary waiting room, happily living his three-dimensional life, ready to be picked out and examined by any author who might so choose. HE IS JUST A FUNCTION OF SALINGER'S WRITING.

Got that? Then let's move quickly onto point two:

SALINGER IS A BRILLIANT WRITER. YOU ARE A SHIT WRITER.

That one was quicker to explain than the previous one, wasn't it?

So onward to the conclusion – the marriage of the two above observations. To whit: If you, 'John David California', write about Holden Caulfield, you are not carrying on the work of Salinger. You are writing about a totally different Holden Caulfield. A really, really, really shit one. You are like a frigging talentless 12-year-old reckoning you can paint the Mona Lisa's sister because you're using the same colours as Leonardo.

LEAVE IT.




In any case, Salinger doesn't seem to like 'Mr Califoria's' efforts too much. Hence his legal action. Good.




Are there any doubts lingering? Are you wondering, in some vestige of your mind, whether I may be being a little harsh? If so (jeez, what does it take?), go and check out this deeply depressing interview with Frederik Colting (aka 'John David California'). Photo above. Assorted gems include:

'I think 60 Years Later IS a super-original novel. In many ways I believe [it] is as original and creative as Catcher.'

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Haha. Ha. Did you just say (haha) 'super-original'? HAHAHA. Idiot.

'With 60 Years Later I've taken on the task to seek out the real meaning of this reality, and the true relationship between Salinger and Holden. Holden has become just as real as Salinger himself. To anyone who hasn't met Salinger, and most of us haven't, he is simply a fictive character himself living in our minds.'

Just like you're a fictive character in my mind? A BLOODY BORING ONE.

'Frankly, I'm still having a hard time believing that, in this day and age, in a civilized world, someone can go to such lengths to try to ban a book. And what blows my mind is that I don't think Salinger has read the book.'

I know. Blows my mind too. Amazing, isn't it?

'I've never had much respect for old things, just for the sake that they are old. Especially if they act as brakes, keeping things from evolving. Creativity has to move freely or it will fall flat on its ass. If it was up to me I'd replace Mona Lisa with something new.' [See what I mean about the Mona Lisa thing? I had actually written that earlier bit before I found this quotation, incidentally.]

Oh, you fucking iconoclast, you. Man. I wish I could say deep and cool things like that. Now get this: we don't respect Catcher because it's old; we respect it because it's good. Unlike your pile of shit. You incredible, enormous pillock.

Taken from another interview:

'It is a weird literature world we live in if we need judges to tell us what we should read or not.'

No, turdforbrains. It's really not that weird. Listen and try to understand. Judges ain't telling you what you can't read. They're telling you what you can't fucking sell. You faux-naive bastard.

Oh, dear blogprodders, I think we've found ourselves a new sh1t muncher, don't you?

2 comments:

Matt Sellwood said...

I thought you were being really harsh until I read that interview. What a bell-end.

FieldVole said...

a sh1t muncher for sure

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