Today it was announced that JD Salinger has died, at the grand old age of 91. I may have had the feeling while reading it that Catcher in the Rye was not aimed at me - I never suffered the growing pains of a teenage boy after all (well, not in the first person anyway). But it was a book that I have read, my partner has read, my family has read and many of my friends have read. Also, it is a book that this chap called Jake Gyllenhaal has read. This book has influenced across age groups, genders, borders, oceans. It's not always been put to the best of use - I'm a John Lennon fan - but it will continue to be read, making the reader think about, and reassess, how they fit into their own world. It made me afraid a little.
So, here is Jake talking about Catcher in the Rye to Chelsea Clinton for Interview.
'CC: Right. Well, speaking of reading, are you reading anything interesting? JG: I happen to be rereading my favorite book, [J.D. Salinger's] Franny and Zooey. Have you read that book? CC: I have. Have you also read The Catcher in the Rye? JG: Of course. Many times, actually. CC: How old were you when you first read it? JG: I think I was 12. We went on a family vacation to Hawaii, and my sister gave it to me for Christmas, and I remember I couldn't put it down. You know, my production company is called Nine Stories Productions, which is an homage to J.D. Salinger's book of short stories. After The Catcher in the Rye I read everything he wrote. And now I'm back on another kick, reading them all again.'
'CC: Are you finding different lessons in them now than you did when you were younger? JG: I think now I have an appreciation of the specific more than the broad--the ideas, the sort of Buddhism that pervades all of Salinger's work. You know, I think it's genius that J.D. Salinger doesn't want anybody to make a movie of his book, because there's no way anyone can play it. it is what it is to everybody. I've met many people who actually dislike it. Especially some women I know. CC: Really? Why? In protest of the--and here I will try to shield those who haven't had the good fortune to read it yet--various tools Holden uses in his night of self-discovery? JG: I don't want to be gender-specific, and I hate separating male from female, but I do think that male angst, especially in an adolescent boy's life, is very specific. I think girls moving into womanhood go through it earlier and in a somewhat different way. So by the time they're the age where boys start going through it, they've sort of already gone through it, and some people just don't relate.'
'CC: That's interesting. I don't think I've ever encountered anyone who has a vehement dislike for the book. I know people who don't like it as much as I would have anticipated they would, but I've never had the benefit of having to defend why I like it. It's a special experience to read it when you are at the age Holden is in the book. I had to read it in high school, and it really compelled me and my friends to think about where we were in our lives. JG: Mm-hmm.'
'CC: I would encourage people to read it in the hope that maybe it would have a similar inspirational effect. Did you feel Holden Caulfield-esque while you were making The Good Girl? Do you even agree with your character's interpretation [of the book]? JG: There's something about him that makes me think he's only read that one book. He's so lost that he just sort of takes on this "Holden" persona because he understands it's universal. There's a funny line in the movie where [Jennifer Aniston's character] says to my character, "Your name's Tom?" And he says, "Tom is my slave name. Holden's what I call myself." CC: [laughs] I remember that part. JG: The Malcolm X of white suburban boys.'
Later on, during the promotion of Jarhead, Jake reiterated his affection for the works of Salinger: 'Q: What's your favourite book? JG: JD Salinger's Franny And Zooey. Q: What about Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye? Your character in 2002's The Good Girl was obsessed with it. JG: I've read that many times. I went on a family vacation to Hawaii when I was 12 and my sister [actress Maggie Gyllenhaal] gave it to me for Christmas. I couldn't put it down. My production company is called Nine Stories Productions, a homage to Salinger's book of short stories.'
And here 'Jake professes his fondness for J.D. Salinger's novel. ('It was actually the first book I related to when I was young.')' Jake's mother Naomi has also said that she reads Franny and Zooey, 'my favorite book in the world', every five years.
Of course, Jake starred in The Good Girl not only with Jennifer Aniston but also with Zooey Deschanel, who was named after the Salinger character in Franny and Zooey. Jake's character in This Is Our Youth also reminded more than one critic of Holden Caulfield.
Some influences get everywhere.
Includes pictures from IHJ.