Catcher in the Rye: Holden Caulfield’s Voice Resonates

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Holden Caulfield’s voice as the protagonist in Catcher in the Rye is the masterful creation of J.D. Salinger, a man who often wanted to be left alone.

The words of the 17-year-old New Yorker take readers on a journey that feels so real we can all get lost in his world. Having flunked out of a boarding school for boys, Holden is isolated by depression, a distrust of shallow people, and vulgar language. He is more sensitive than he admits, still mourns the death of his brother Allie, and adores his younger sister Phoebe. He has not found a fit in four private schools.

The book’s first sentence sets the tone for Holden Caulfield’s story:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Salinger’s most famous book, set in the 1950s, was written for adults, but it remains a favorite of youth, selling hundreds of thousands of copies a year. Its popular use in high schools has gotten teachers in trouble for its themes of morality, violence, sex, underage drinking, mental health.

Most of us had a Holden Caulfield in us. Ferris Bueller did. Many of us still do.

Five decades after I first read Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield’s words make me laugh, make me sad, make me want to tell him to be kinder to himself. And, sometimes, to others.

I can still learn a thing or two from Holden Caulfield–and I’m not just saying that.

 

Sierra Nevada: A Beer Story Like No Other

Imagine having the opportunity to sit down with Ken Grossman, founder of perhaps America’s greatest craft beer company. As you sip one of his many brews, he tells you how, in 1980, he started a company that would eventually produce a million barrels of beer a year. As he tells his story, though, you sense that he is trying not to sound like he is betraying his humble nature. That is what it is like to read Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

With his bare hands, ingenuity and unflagging commitment, the longtime backpacker and bicyclist, now in his 60s, overcame obstacles that would sink mere mortals. He built a company with quality and sustainability as his guideposts; his brewery in Chico, California has become the city’s biggest tourist attraction. Sierra Nevada added an even more impressive facility near Asheville, North Carolina.

Ken Grossman’s story is remarkable in many ways. And his book came out before 2018’s fire that destroyed Paradise, just up the road from Ken’s brewery. His (and Sierra Nevada’s) response to that disaster reminded me of his dogged determination that created Sierra Nevada nearly four decades ago. He called a special brew Resilience and is donating all sales (not just the profits) of the beer to the Paradise recovery. And he convinced breweries across America to join the effort.

Beyond the Pale is an inspiring story and you can shop for the book by clicking on the cover above.

(In the interest of disclosure, my son works for Sierra Nevada in Chico.)

Readers Weigh in on Camino Sunrise

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From Amazon USA and UK:

“I am a long-distance trekker as well…Camino Sunrise is an enjoyable and inspirational book and I highly recommend it.” — J. Robert Harris, author, Way Out There

“I’ve read quite a few books by people who have walked the Camino. This book is up there with the best of them. It’s well-written, well-constructed, funny, sad and informative. This book has it all…This book is about so much more than a walk. It’s not just a journey through Spain, it’s a journey through life.”

“A truly great book, made more special by the postscript which tells of the couple’s further trekking and enjoyment of life.”

“This is one of the best Camino books I have read.”

“This is a story about our shared humanity and that life is a journey toward self-acceptance. Part of me wishes that every middle schooler could read this book to understand that it’s not just them, that life evolves.”

“What an adventure! You inspire me…I was traveling every step of the way with you, and feeling every bit of it.”

“The author writes well. Thoroughly enjoyed the read.”

“Touching, humorous, and inspiring–with life lessons and soul enlightenments we can all learn from or relate to. I couldn’t put it down once I started!”

“Thank you for sharing your journey! So well described that I feel like I was there and that the connections you made along the way are my friends too.”

“With his heart wide open as he describes his journey on the Camino, Reg demonstrates how braving a huge challenge can be life-changing.”

“Ultimately, the book is uplifting and full of humor and hope–and unforgettable portraits of the fellow pilgrims he meets along the way. This book would make a wonderful gift for the trekker or would-be trekker in your family–or for anyone who just likes a good story.”

“I have read possibly 20 books to date written by those who have dared follow their dreams and have gone hiking…Reginald’s book is one of my favorites. His writing is upbeat and positive and a joy to read!”

“By the end of the book, I was ready to grab my backpack and drag my own partner on the Camino.”