Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Moratorium: Holden Caulfield

I would like to here-by call a moratorium on all and any back cover copy comparing all or any characters to Holden Caulfield. That donkey is dead and the flogging of it will only bring it back to life as a zombie donkey.  As we all know zombie donkeys still eat carrots, are twice as stubborn as regular donkeys and are voiced by Charlie Murphy in their animated forms.  Okay, moratorium canceled in the hope of a zombie donkey renaissance.    

I mean book reviewers have a tough enough job, right? How else do you coax a gaggle of parochial readers into buying a book about a hermaphrodite or about a stranded wannabe infrantryman (who is also compared to Forrest Gump by another back-cover blurb)?   Maybe its the kind of marketing juju sometimes celebrated by giving the name of something popular (225,000 copies of Catcher are still sold a year?) to something else less popular.  Crystal Pepsi for instance bore no relation to original Pepsi (in taste, color or consistency).  

Or maybe not.  Maybe the best we can hope for is that dust jacket comparisons to Holden Caulfield are actually back-handed compliments or better yet code for the books ghostwritten by  J.D. Salinger.  Though, the more I think about Philip Roth's The Ghostwriter, the more I think he is one of the few writers to actively engage against the aura of Caulfield, Zuckerman performing the coup de fait of dual iconoclasm making a Salingeresque writer the reluctant lover of Anne Frank, an alternative reality Anne Frank who survived the war.   

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