Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Perfection is in the Eye of the Beholder

Reading outside in the sun today!
"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."—J. D. Salinger

I watched a documentary on J.D. Salinger on Amazon Prime, which I get free with my Amazon Prime membership. I've been watching lots of documentaries lately, especially about authors.

J.D. Salinger was a recluse. He lived in his own world and did things his own way. On the outside it might have seemed crazy, but to him perhaps it was perfection.

I had never read The Catcher in the Rye. It was never required reading for me in high school or college, even though I studied literature/writing in college. Suddenly, after seeing this documentary, I had to read it. I immediately ordered myself a copy of The Catcher in the Rye from Amazon.

It was a tiny paperback book with the title in a 50s-looking font. It had an orange cover with a carousel horse on it.

At first, it was hard to read and I couldn't understand for the life of me why this book was a sensation. Every other word in the book was goddam. But then something happened. I let go of my ideas of what this book should be and entered the scene. I went for a ride with this author. I was part of the story.

For the last few days, I could not put the book down. It was a coming of age story of Holden Caulfield. Nothing was going right for him. He got kicked out of school, he got beat up, he didn't fit in, but he could only be and think who he was at that time. He definitely could not pretend to be anyone else. In fact, the entire book was a comment on how people in society, at that time, were just pretending or acting out their parts. The word phony was used dozens of times.

Yesterday I had so much to do, but I didn't do anything I was supposed to do.

I pulled two chairs together and made a makeshift lawn chair. I got myself a drink from the kitchen and I sat in the front yard in the sun for two entire hours reading The Catcher in the Rye. 

I forgot where I was.

I forgot who I was.

I forgot I had things to do.

A good book will do that to you.

Finally, I pulled myself together. I got my wits about me and got to work and taught my classes and it went really well.

But I wouldn't have done it differently. It was perfect. A perfect afternoon in the sun with an excellent book that took me awhile to warm up to.

It made me want to read more and write more. So here I am.

Have you read a book recently that made you feel good, made you think or made you change your mind about something? What was it?


  1. I read the book Salinger by the guys who did the documentary. It was amazing. I loved The Catcher in the Rye back when I read it in high school but haven't read it again. I do own it and loved Franny and Zooey (check that one out also). I have Prime as well must watch the documentary. At the end of the book his heirs said new works will come out from him starting 2015. I look forward to that. xoxo

    1. I will have to read that book. And yes, watch the documentary...it's very good. I'm tempted to watch it again! I look forward to his works in 2015 too!

  2. I like your sitting in the sun with the perfect book to read. I just finished reading Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and in my review I wrote "This book refreshed me."
    Oh what a divine novel. You are watching some biographies of authors and I am on that path too, only I am reading. Currently I am reading "Dorothy Sayers: Her Life and Her Soul."

    1. Hi Terra,

      Lately that's what I feel like doing. I feel like reading and writing, but I'm currently doing lots of teaching. It gives me less time to read and write. Someday I'll find the perfect balance! The books you are reading sound wonderful!

  3. Hi Kathy,

    Just to say that you would really enjoy J.D. Saliger's other books such as "Nine Stories" and "Franny and Zoey", "Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters." He is so observant of human nature and he is so funny and smart! I love this stories. Personally, I liked his other novels more than "Catcher in the Rye" but that is a good place to start.

    1. Hi Blue! Nice to see you here. My book reading list is getting longer and longer. I want to read all of these. Thanks for the list. I'm becoming a Salinger fan :) Hope you are doing well!

  4. I love these kinds of days when I allow myself to indulge in such beautiful practices of disappearing into words....
    your post reminded me of that

    love and light

    1. Hi Cat, Nice to see you here. I know I should be getting ready for the work week, but I think I'm going to go disappear again into a good book, a cup of tea and a bath! Thanks for stopping by!