Vanquish, OED definition = defeat thoroughly

I’ve been walking around with a worn, red copy of The Catcher in the Rye in my satchel for the last week or two, which is just, you know, not a recipe for happiness.

The book has changed for me some since I read it 100 times in high school, but not too much I guess. It’s a book of profound sadness, but there’s some levity. I think as a kid I took every scene deathly serious. I’ve been thinking about it in terms of my own novel. I want to write something “voice driven” (take a moment to puke and come back) and sad and breezy and interesting. In high school I sent a promise to my grown up self not to abandon me. I was a passionate, smart teenager, and I wanted literature that reflected that people like me existed to prove we weren’t all fucking morons who listened to bad music and feared authority. So I’ve toyed around with writing a novel from a 17-year-old girl’s perspective. But you know what, 17-year-old self? I don’t think I can do it. Sorry. I fear it will be too boring and painful, and I can’t slip into YA. That’s just something I cannot do at this time. Back to the drawing board.

Time out: click on the link under “small stories” and vote for mine at Snake Oil Cure. If you want. It’s called, “Bad Day.” I want to win for personal reasons. Personally, I like winning. :Time in.

One more thing about The Catcher in the Rye before moving on. This is for the search engines. Holden Caulfield is a 6 on the enneagram. He’s not a 4 or a 5 like I know you all want him to be. Look at the way he is simultaneously repelled and attracted to people, the way he roams the streets and is dying to have conversations with everybody. Look at how he thinks one thing about someone and says the exact opposite. At one point he says he’s “anxious as hell” or “nervous as hell” or something like that; I forget which. He’s insanely counter-phobic. Think about it.

And here’s one more thing for lazy high school English teachers. It’s neither insightful nor true to conclude that the big, take home point of the book is the paradox of Holden Caulfield claiming everyone is a phony whilst being a phony himself. Despising the piano player and simultaneously asking to have a drink with him isn’t phony. It’s psychologically honest. People live in contradictory states all day every day. Holden is sixteen and naive and displays age appropriate cynicism. He’s frustrated with retarded social conventions and who can blame him? Not this girl. 12 years since we first met, and I still want to marry Holden Caulfield and vanquish my illiterate enemies.


I played terrible poker last night. I don’t know if you play, but it’s like this: sometimes you feel on, and sometimes you make a bet or check, and just a second after your brain says, “Why the fuck did I do that?” I mean, at one point I tried to bluff this dude out of $40 pots with $5 raises on the river. (For the uninitiated: that’s stupid. He would be insane not to call that. He was “pot committed.”) It’s embarrassing to play bad poker as a woman. It just reaffirms the other player’s beliefs about the fairer sex. Anyway, it was only by some miracle I didn’t bust out and managed to recoup my funds and break even. I won $41 dollars on my $40 investment and made a big drunk production about giving the dealer a shitty $1 tip. I can get real belligerent when I play poker, you might be surprised to learn.

What a game, what a game.

6 thoughts on “Vanquish, OED definition = defeat thoroughly

  1. My mom is going to love that Holden-Caulfield-is-a-6 shit. And I agree with you. I think you’re on to something here.

    I LOVE THAT BOOK! Write something just as good, please.

  2. Getting past the first novel autobiographical bias is always a challenge, or so I’ve read (my inner novelist says I’m a lazy bitch.)

    “was a passionate, smart teenager, and I wanted literature that reflected that people like me existed to prove we weren’t all fucking morons who listened to bad music and feared authority. So I’ve toyed around with writing a novel from a 17-year-old girl’s perspective.”

    I think if you focus on the essential theme and illustration of that world-view you’d be able to find a good basis. You can write something for you 17-year old self. Without it being by a 17 year old.

    Triumph of believing in beauty and shiz.

  3. incidentally, I am horrified to observe you’ve quoted the most poorly written sentence in the entire post.

    I think maybe my main character will have a little sister or a cousin or something that I can project any teenage angst onto if need be.

  4. I always really connected with the vision of freedom in Catcher. Even now, it’s one of the most powerful things in the book. People (and teachers) get hung up on the issue of “phonies” and all that, but one of the most thrilling aspects of the book is just the fact of this 16 year old bumming around NYC with money but no real obligations or responsibilities. That, to me, is the core of the book.

    It’s like, have you ever been reading a book and you like the protagonist and you are fascinated by his/her daily life and then the author introduces some lame conflict-driven plot device and all the attention shifts to that and you are disappointed because you just wanted to read about the character? Catcher never really does that. It lets you indulge in the character in the same way he is indulging in his escapade.

  5. I made a promise to myself after I read Catcher in my youth that I would, at the very least, read it every five years. I only wish I had made notes as I age, because it changes as i do and no other book I know does that. My adult self sees so many things differently and this book reminds me of how I felt at that age and how I need, nee, MUST remember those feelings. It fucking matters! It FUCKING matters that we as adults remember how it is at that age. I learn how to be an adult through that book. The world can fuck itself as long as I have a copy of Catcher to reread!

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