Slate's critics on whether The Catcher in the Rye still packs a punch.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
Jan. 28 2010 1:50 PM

The Audio Book Club on J.D. Salinger

Our critics discuss The Catcher in the Rye.

Reclusive author J.D. Salinger died Jan. 27 at the age of 91. Last September, Slate critics Stephen Metcalf and Troy Patterson, and James Ryerson of the New York Times Magazine gathered to discuss Salinger's most famous and influential novel: perennial high school favorite The Catcher in the Rye. Their conversation is reprinted below.

To listen to the Slate Audio Book Club discussion of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, click the arrow on the player below.

You can also download the audio file here, or click here to subscribe to the Slate Audio Book Club feed in iTunes.

Get your 14-day free trial of Gabfest sponsor Audible.com, which includes a credit for one free audiobook, here.

This month, the Audio Book Club tackles J.D. Salinger's classic novel The Catcher in the Rye. This massive cultural touchstone's protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is the iconic teenage rebel. (Stephen argues that you can find traces of Holden in all the works of Wes Anderson, the films Tadpoleand Igby Goes Down, and the novel Prep.) It's also a market phenomenon, with about 250,000 copies sold each year and total sales of more than 65 million.

But Catcher's influence may be on the decline. In a reported New York Times piece this summer, Jennifer Schuessler argued that adolescents are no longer so taken with Holden or with Salinger's writing. Are kids today on to something? Is Catcher a phony? Or does the novel have lasting value?

Slate's Audio Book Club now comes to you on the third Monday instead of the third Thursday of every month. (Sorry for the change up!) Our selection for October is Nicholson Baker's 10th novel, The Anthologist. Look for our discussion of The Anthologist on iTunes or on the Slatehomepage on Monday, Oct. 19.

You can also listen to any of our previous club meetings through our iTunes feed or by clicking on the links below *:

Questions? Comments? Write to us at podcasts@slate.com. (E-mailers may be quoted by name unless they request otherwise.)

* To download the MP3 file,right-click (Windows) or hold down the Control key while you click (Mac), and then use the "save" or "download" command to save the audio file to your hard drive.

Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

Troy Patterson is Slate's writer at large and writes the Gentleman Scholar column.

James Ryerson is an editor at the New York Times.

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