Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dear Great Book Guru, I was at the Family and Friends opening of the Five Napkin Burger Uptown this week. Although 5NB is located in NYC on Broadway and 84th Street, this was definitely a Sea Cliff happening. The Laffertys, the Gordons, the Speranzas, the Calzonettis, the Harrigan-Fleishmans, the Warrens, and of course, the host family , the D'Amicos were all in attendance and what a night it was! The food was delicious and the ambiance perfect . During the evening, someone mentioned that J.D. Salinger and Howard Zinn had both died during the week. Everyone at the table had read books by these authors but people's opinions of them varied greatly. What are your thoughts? Five Burger Fan

Dear Five Burger, I too was at the restaurant this week and my reaction was similar to yours- another great D'Amico restaurant in a great location. My thoughts on Zinn and Salinger are equally strong. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is a book every adolescent must read in order to understand that he/she is not alone in the universe. The angst and cynicism of Holden Caulfield so mirrors most contemporary teenagers' psyches that is truly shocking to realize it was written sixty years ago. It is a book that does not age but its audience does . Read it somewhere between the ages of thirteen and eighteen but then never again. Howard Zinn, on the other hand, while assigned to high school students, can be read throughout one's life. Zinn was a World War II bomber pilot who became an historian, teacher, playwright, and pacifist. His most well known work A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES offers a fascinating and sobering take on our country's history. THE ZINN READER is a compilation of his other writings and delineates his belief that a country's power must rest in its people . Both books are highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. Although I agree with the Guru about Catcher's appeal to adolescents, I think it is a book that one should return to periodically, regardless of age. All of Salinger's stories address issues that young people can easily relate to, which make his work so attractive to them. Reading Salinger, however, should not be exclusive to teenagers. I love to return to his writing, which instantly reverts me to an earlier time - similar to listening to a Beatles song or watching an old TV sitcom. I think that is the beauty of a classic that still holds you captive regardless of the fact that you have read it countless times before. In addition, I have enjoyed reading Salinger again in later years to see his influence on authors that came after him. I like to find evidence of his impact on Roth, Updike, Vonnegut, Mailer, etc. So, in my humble opinion, I respectively disagree with the Guru that Catcher should not be revisited by those that enjoyed reading it years ago. I have and intend to again in the future.