I don’t recall how old I was when I first read J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye–fourteen or fifteen, perhaps. Everyone seemed to be reading it then, and afterward, everyone seemed to adapt Salinger’s writing style. English classes became tedious as student after student read his “original” composition in an imitation of Holden Caulfield’s voice.
All of us wanted to be Holden Caulfield. We wanted to travel through New York as he did — alone, with money in our pockets, and at all hours. We wanted to read the books he liked, drink scotch, and call out the phonies. We liked that he was a straight talker, glib and slangy, a no-holds-barred kind of guy, our generation’s John Wayne.