Monday, November 29, 2010

November's books

#27, Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger (1951) and #28, Julie & Julia by Julie Powell (2005)

I read Catcher in the Rye as a grown-up, which makes much more sense, like reading Huck Finn as a grown-up. It is less an instruction manual than a memory play, and leaves one nostalgic but happy to be an adult and through this terrifying phase of youth.

I thought Salinger did indeed catch the voice of youth and the tone of combined hopelessness and powerlessness one can feel at that time: not old enough to make changes in anything but yourself, but not smart enough to know that is a good thing, ultimately.

We forget he wrote it in 1951: well prior to the usual time of teen angst, the 60s. Fifteen years later, the Holden Caulfields of the 50s were the young generation rebels of the 60s. But it is a post-war novel, too, encompassing all the chaos seen and expressed so differently in European novels (and drama).

Julie and Julia was an eye-opener for me. Julie Powell was stuck, as I have been, and started cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking as well as blogging her daily experiences, to get out of it.

I found her writing charming and her setting of this odd goal refreshing. Why not? Mastering cooking? Why not? The movie focused more strongly on the Julia Child plotline, and given the actors, of course, one would say. Julie Powell comes across as lesser and a bit whiny, as played by Amy Adams, which is more the script than anything. And yet Powell does what Ephron herself did: writes herself out of a dead-end place and into a better one. I found it inspiring, and started a blog to record my own, what? adventures, exploits, etc.

Why not?

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