overrated item of the week: a crosspost

Recipe for an Instant 9th Grade English Class Classic:

• 1 Protagonist – white. male. young. preferably not much fat.

• 1 heaping cup of awkward male (hetero)sexuality.

• (optional) 1 tsp. of heavily-diluted anti-racist or feminist analysis (NOT BOTH. TOO MUCH FLAVOR MAY RESULT) to off-set that bland hetero white dude taste.

• 1/2 cup of crazy. Distant relationship with parents. stupid, spur-of-the-moment decisions. silly illegal activity. frat boy shenanigans. doesn’t matter.

• 3 cups of opposition to authority.

• infinite cans of beer

1. Marinate protagonist in awkward sexuality & beer all night long. Should be smooth, soft, and pliable by morning.

2. Slowly, gently knead in the crazy with your bare hands & firmly pound in the opposition to authority with a blunt object.

3. Boil, boil, boil until you’re left with a shapeless mass the size and consistency of an elephant stool. Sprinkle on the analysis as an afterthought, if desired.

Can be chewed up, painfully digested, and shit out into 200+ pages of unadulterated poo-poo in which nothing much happens. Ages poorly, yet the expiration date is seemingly non-existent – makes enough for thousands of 9th grade English students to consume for decades to come.

Exactly why a story about a spoiled, wealthy prep school kid who doesn’t do much in particular beyond fuck up resonates so deeply with other people is unknown to me. Holden Caulfield is worse than unlikeable – he’s uninteresting. If a nasty character is nasty in an interesting way, I’ll want to keep reading, if only to see what awful thing (s)he’s going to do next.

Whenever I bother re-reading Catcher and try to latch onto his character, though, I’m left with that same frustrating throb in my temple that I get when I gaze hungrily into a refrigerator empty of anything but a carton of curdled milk and a bottle of ketchup. I feel deprived.

All of Holden’s attempts to be introspective end up looking like meandering jumbles of text that come off as sappy at best and cringe-inducing at worst. Here, an original parody made all the worse by the fact that it could easily be real:

“So, I met this girl Edith at my uncle Jimbob’s cocktail party last Christmas. She was such a phony; she really was. She was the sort of girl who would tell you that she doesn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day and then get in a lousy mood when you don’t buy her anything. I still wanted to give her the time, though, because she had a pretty face. She had the sort of face that makes you think of pure American stuff like Jesus and baseball and Easter eggs – all soft and pale like a loaf of Wonder bread. She had on some of that pastel-colored eye gunk that girls wear, except she was wearing a whole lot of it. It killed me. At the end of the party, I got her out on the porch and was sort of trying to stare down her sweater at her knockers, but my uncle came out and ruined the whole thing before I could get sexy with Edith. Uncle Jimbob really is a sonuvabitch. It kills me.”

Eh. I wish something would.


~ by fistfulofsunshine on November 24, 2009.

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