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.

 

If Marvel were to create characters who performed superhero feats across the world’s waters, Glen and Julie Bradley could be models.

For seven years, the early retirees defy death more times than cats, always landing, sometimes barely, on their feet. Piloting a French-made Amel Super Maramu, one of the world’s greatest sailing vessels, they visit 63 countries, including Bequia in Saint Vincent, Niue, and the far-from-ordinary Colombia. 

In a pair of enthralling books, author Julie Bradley takes readers on a journey that rarely includes the usual paths of world travelers. They experience adventures that bring pleasure and terror, sometimes on the same day. Between the two extremes, they overcome unpredictable hardships that must make them proud today.

You need no sailing experience to follow the adventures in Escape from the Ordinary and Crossing Pirate Waters. But you will marvel at the exploits of these two American mortals. 

 

Couple Sails Around the World Like Superheroes

Come Trippin’ With Me on the Trails of Europe

Sue and I at Land’s End, England, after a trek like no other.

Our fall 2019 trek on England’s South West Coast Path left us wanting more. While we (and our backpacks) await our chance to find our next adventure, Sue walks the hills around our home in Ashland, Oregon, and I bicycle on nearby quiet roads and bike paths.

Then I work on my second book, to be published (I hope) by the end of 2020. Here is a sneak preview (working title is Trippin’ Through My Sixties):

A guy (that’s me) retiring at age 60 revives the rebellious rumblings of his teen years in the 1960s. He and his wife set out to make their post-working years an adventure by moving out of state, making new friends, and walking the long-distance trails of Europe. There are four parts: Scotland’s West Highland Way, the Alps’ Tour du Mont Blanc, Italy’s Way of St. Francis, and England’s South West Coast Path. Each trek challenged us with more adventure than we thought possible.

My first book, Camino Sunrise, an adventure memoir about our first trek, continues to find new readers in several countries. I am so grateful for its success and for the many readers who send emails or write reviews.

Send along a note (See Contact in the Menu) if you want to be among the first to know when the new book is out. Meanwhile, my best wishes for your good health.

The Pacific Crest Trail Provides Too

David Smart, aka Stayin’ Alive

Just as long-distance trekking grew on David Smart, his book, The Trail Provides: A Boy’s Memoir of Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, grew on me, page by page.

At 24, David was dissatisfied with his digital marketing job. He had plenty of money, parties, and women, but he felt that his life lacked purpose. His 26-year-old college buddy Bradley had an answer: Walk the Pacific Crest Trail with me.

Bradley, who brings intensity to life and to the trail, influences his younger friend right from their start on the USA-Mexico border. He walks barefoot, and David follows, despite great pain and suffering. But David, who eventually gets an apt trail name, Stayin’ Alive, develops confidence and his own trail identity.

David Smart lets readers into his experience with honesty and entertaining, easy-to-read narrative. He begins as an ordinary 20-something and grows immeasurably. As someone who has walked five long-distance trails in Europe, I admire people like David who trek 2,600 miles over six months, all the way to Canada.

Pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain like to say, “The Camino will provide” when the going gets tough. For David Smart, the Pacific Crest Trail will provide for the rest of his life.