“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much.” – Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye.
That doesn’t happen much is right. If ever at all. I’ve only read one book where I had a similar thought process. Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. The book was one part of the equation. The rest is film adaptations, documentaries, and the whole mystique of the man and his life. Thompson is one of if not my main reason for wanting to be a writer. As such, he is a special case in a special situation that brings me no closer to thinking as Caulfield does, or even understanding his reasoning.
A character I can understand. We’ve all had that experience at least once if not a hundred times. Once a book, if not more. Haven’t we’ve all become so immersed in a story we could swear we where right there as it unfolded? That’s the sign of a good writer, and in a sense a good director. The focus should be the story in front of us instead of who is bringing it to life. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Is it the writer or the story? The singer or the song? Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but other times it does. It all depends. I can’t answer for you. I can only answer for me. More often than not I can’t even do that. Maybe you can. I try not to concern myself with these things too much or too often.
With an autobiography, if done correctly, you can get the sense of knowing the author and are friends with them. Levon Helm’s book, This Wheel’s On Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of The Band comes to mind. I’m sure there are other fine examples, but that’s the best one I can think of at the moment. He’s engaging, witty, funny, and holds nothing back in telling his stories. The tales he tells are entertaining, and the tone is conversational. You feel like you’re sitting next to him. When an autobiography reads like that it’s hard not to know the person. Then again, the author becomes more of a storyteller, in a sense becoming a character in a way. This takes us back to the point I was making earlier.
Does anyone have anything they would like to add? Perhaps the original quote makes sense to 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, but not to 32-year-old me. When I was 16 I never thought that way. Then again I wasn’t a big reader at the time, at least not fiction. Does anyone else agree with Holden Caulfield? What did you read? Does anyone else in here feel the way I do? Perhaps a little of both?
Copyright © Drew Martin 2016