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Image Credits: Amazon

I know I shouldn’t have expected much from this book and honestly being someone who is completely obsessed with J.D. Salinger’s classic, The Catcher and the Rye I shouldn’t have picked up this piece of trash (it does not deserve to be called a book) in the first place, but curiosity got the best of me. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The thing is I just really love Holden Caulfield and I’ve missed him and was excited about the possibility of seeing him brought back to life again, even if it was 60 years later, with a new story. However, this isn’t the aged version of Holden Caulfield that I thought it would be.

This piece of trash starts off with Holden Caulfield in a retirement home. He seems to be surprised by the fact that he’s old and I’m left wondering if he has dementia or Alzheimer’s or another degenerative disease. He is really confused which seems out of character for Holden. However, I tried to put that past me and give the book a chance. But the thing is California makes it hard to give this piece of trash a chance because the more you read, the worst it gets.

This piece of trash didn’t really have a plot or a point or a purpose or any kind of organized structure. I guess that explains why the book was self-published (I mean absolutely no offense to those who are actual credible writers that self-publish…I just mean for this guy clearly there were no other options – who would want to publish this garbage under than him?). Most of this piece of trash is just about Holden wandering around aimlessly. He escapes his retirement home and then just goes to New York and Boston and randomly comes across people from his childhood like Stradlater. Phoebe’s there too and Holden’s obsession with her is downright creepy and leaves the reader feeling uncomfortable. I can understand how Holden would still see his sister 60 years later, but Stradlater? Really? And I mean it’s 60 years later – there’s a chance he could’ve even been dead to be honest. The chances of Holden staying in touch are slim to none and the book even seems to acknowledge that in a way; Holden seems surprised to find Stradlater. It doesn’t make much sense; it just feels like the author’s lame attempt to re-write The Catcher in the Rye and you don’t mess with a classic.

There’s some new characters in this piece of trash, too and they come off as well, trashy. Charlie is one of the main characters and I’m totally confused on who she is and why she’s in this sad excuse of a book. I think she was one of Holden’s students? But when was he ever a teacher? Did he ever even go to or finish college? California never addresses those questions – he just randomly places her in the book and the next thing you know she’s having a threesome with her boyfriend and the elderly Holden Caulfield. It’s sick and there’s no reason why it needs to be in the story at all.

Another noteworthy character in this piece of trash is J.D. Salinger himself. Yes, because it’s totally normal to write a spinoff of a book and to throw the original author in their randomly. Sure. Salinger has no purpose in being in this book, but then again neither does anyone else. I have no idea what was even going on in this part of the book. I know Holden found a notebook and he went to return it to his son but his son was J.D. Salinger? Or did I misread it? Does California even know which is which? Sometimes I don’t think he even knows what he’s doing. It made no sense. If Salinger was his son then everything would be backwards. Salinger is older than Holden? I don’t even know…

But I haven’t even gotten to the best part of this trash. Have I told you about Holden’s bladder yet? Now I know it might sound weird for me to talk about Holden’s bladder and you might think it’s something you really don’t need to know about, but trust me when I say that John David California wants you to know about Holden Caulfield’s bladder. In fact, California went so far as to make sure he wrote about Holden’s bladder no less than every 2-3 pages throughout the entire novel. I don’t think this piece of trash has a point at all, but if it did I bet it would probably have something to do with Holden’s bladder.

What do I mean by “Holden’s bladder?” I mean just that. I know every single time Holden has a full bladder, when he think he might have a full bladder, when his bladder is so full it causes him pain, and when he doesn’t realize he has a full bladder until it’s too late. I already mentioned that most of the novel involves Holden aimlessly wandering around. I lied. He’s not “just” aimlessly walking around – he’s also urinating on everything in sight because his bladder is always overflowing and there’s never a bathroom around but if there is one Holden would rather not use it. Why does the reader need to know this? We really don’t, trust me, California. The only reason I can think of as to why the sad excuse of an author decided this was important was because it was a sad attempt to show that Holden is 60 years older and obviously developed urinary incontinence.

California’s portrayal of an elderly Holden is disgraceful at best. He seems to play on the stereotype that all elderly men live in retirement homes, can’t control their bladders, and are confused. This isn’t just stereotyping, it feels like blatant ageism. Holden deserves better than this.

After reading 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye I’m left feeling disgusted and ashamed to even admit I’ve read this. It also makes me want to go rushing back to the original classic The Catcher in the Rye. I bet I’ll love it and appreciate it now more than ever.

I’m also left with two words to say:

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry to Mr. Salinger who never wanted this book released and who went so far as to have it banned from the US (I had to order it online specially to obtain a copy). I’m sorry for not respecting his wishes. I’m sorry that the book was ever written. I’m sorry the book was published. I’m sorry the book is banned from all parts of the world and that more people are still reading this piece of trash.

Holden deserved better and so did Salinger.


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Image Credits: House to House 

For those of you who don’t already know, I am currently enrolled in my first semester of graduate school in the MA in Writing program at Rowan University. One of the classes I am enrolled in this semester is Core I: Theories and Techniques of Writing. This is a required class for my program where we study many other writers and how they write. We have just been assigned to write a paper that is either an imitation or parody of another writer. For this assignment I have chosen to write a parody of Henry David Thoreau’s “Why I Went to the Woods”. My parody is listed below. As you read it I ask that you keep in mind that part of the assignment requires me to adopt Thoreau’s writing style. This is why the sentences are so long and detailed with many commas and semi colons and very long paragraphs. It is also why some parts of it may feel very repetitive and the language is kind of old-fashioned and not the way people talk today. I am attempting to write in Thoreau’s voice here, not my own. Also, please keep in mind that this is a first draft. While I am very proud of this draft (hence why I am choosing to publish it to my blog), it is just that, a first draft. This is far from perfect and will be undergoing significant revision as my semester goes on. I do however welcome any comments or feedback. 

Why I Went to Church

I went to church because I wished to live for Christ, and to live my life in a way that is only pleasing to him, and to see if I could lead a life free of sin, so as to go on to heaven at the time of my death. I wished to follow the commandment of my Lord in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1728). I wanted to surrender myself and my life to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, to live so spiritually and free of materialism as to have no one question my faith, but for others to come to know Christ through me and my faith, and to show the world what it means to be a Christian. We do not live our lives for us, we live for Christ.

Did you ever consider how we might live for Christ? Living for Christ is a conscientious choice that we must make every day; a decision to live free of our material possessions and the worldly sinful life. Some choose the pleasure of a life of Christ, others choose the ways of the world run by Satan. It is my hope that one day those who choose the world will wake up and break free of Satan’s hold on them, that they will suddenly choose the life of Christ and follow him and his ways, so that they too, may be saved. Why should we exercise the right of free will? We are determined to choose our own paths in life. Men constantly choose their own paths, thinking they know what’s best for their lives. But we constantly fall short of the glory of God. It all started with Adam and Eve, who chose their own free will, they took pleasure in their own hearts’ desires, so that now we must all suffer the misfortunes of their sin. And now when comes forth acts of temptation, we must all struggle with decision to sin or turn way and follow God, for this is a constant battle in an unbelievers heart, until the day comes that they may be saved.

There is but few men residing alongside Washington Township who considers himself not a sinner, but a saved man, yet has an excuse every which way for why he cannot attend church. The man claims to not have the time of day for such matters as church, yet the same man and his wife would ask the fine couple next door, “What’s the plans for the day?”, fearing that they may miss out on the town’s latest social event. Yet they fail to realize the day’s occurrences are but temporary, for they cannot match the days of heaven that would lie ahead of them, if they were to only get saved.

Still, we live for the world and not for Christ; though the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mam’-mon” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1462). Our lives are stained in sin. A saved man knows not to count on the things in the world for happiness, for as Psalm 23 states, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 915). Pray, pray, pray! I command, pray 10 or 20 times a day, and not once or twice; instead of television read your bible, and listen to 2 Corinthians 6:14 which demands, “Be yet not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1764). Pray, pray. Instead of arguing with your wife, pray for peace; instead of drinking at the bar, invite your friends over for a time of prayer; and pray for each other as often as you can. Our lives are each ridden with sin as the result of the fall of Adam and Eve, and we constantly fall short of the glory of God, with the only option to escape salvation through the grace Christ alone. Look at our nation, an icon of sin, which obviously hasn’t been doing so well in recent years, thrives on the motto, “Do what makes you happy, regardless of the consequences”, which explains why we have become obsessed with the sexualization of our culture and the constant need for self-gratification, and the only way to escape the ruins that we have fallen into as a nation is to turn away from ourselves and our own free will and instead surrender our lives to Christ and his will and his ways for ourselves as individuals and our nation as a whole. Repent, repent, repent! We must admit our shortcomings to the Lord and ask for his forgiveness as we accept the life he has laid out for us, and not merely the paths we think we know best for ourselves, for in all honesty, we know nothing. Men believe that they must engage in pre-marital sex, to put money before prayer, and to break each and every commandment in the bible for the stake of liberty and equality in our nation; whether they actually engage in these acts or support them as bystanders remains to be uncertain, but whether we shall live as moral Christians or sinful heathens these days is questionable.

As for me, I could easily do without the television. I believe there are very few Christ-pleasing shows on air these days. To be honest, I haven’t seen a television program but twice a year during the span of my lifetime that I believed worthwhile of my time. And I am confident that I’m not missing out much on this week’s latest tabloid stories. It’s just one Kardashian sex tape, Taylor Swift’s breakup, WikiLeaks breakthrough, celebrity drug overdose, Jennifer Aniston pregnancy, Kanye West feud, Kate Middelton hat, Oprah Winfrey failed diet, Jennifer Lopez wedding, and Angelina Jolie divorce after the other. Reading one tabloid story is more than enough to last me to my final days. Why do we care to read so much gossip about the misfortunes of the rich and famous? Does Ephesians 4:29 not state, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”? (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1785). Rather than judging these celebrities and talking about the times when they fall short of the glory of God, shall we not pray for them instead? I hear women in the grocery store pick up these tabloids and chat about the celebrities all the time. “That Taylor Swift sure gets around these days,” they say, “What a whore!”. Some of these expressions come from women who wear a cross around their necks and claim to be a Christian, yet they can’t remember the last time they stepped foot in a church or made time for prayer. They may be better off if they threw the tabloids in the trash where they belong and open up their bible and fold their hands to pray instead. Gossiping about Taylor Swift and talking bad about the other celebrities in the tabloids will only fuel the success of the tabloids and bring about no change or betterment of the lives of those who these women mock; for the only real change can come within these celebrities due to an intervention from the holy one above. We as citizens and brothers and sisters in Christ can only do our part to pray for those in need, and not to gossip about the misfortunes and shortcomings of others, for we know ourselves to be stained with the same blood of sinners.

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll seems like a life of luxury. Sure, these things will bring us gratification, but men must realize it is only temporary. For as John 14:6 tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father; but by me” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1638). We can never be satisfied in the things of the world or our own personal gratification alone; we must depend on Christ for hope, salvation, and happiness to last all eternity.

Prayer is but the essence of my life. I come to the Lord as a sinner ready to repent, yet through his grace he redeems me. I struggle in the world ridden with sin as my eternity in paradise awaits. I would live more humbly, pray more often, and attend church to hear the word of my Lord and savior amongst a community of imperfect believers. I am perfectly flawed. I cannot count but one day of life without sin. I always regret the ways in which I let my savior down. I strive to live a life for Christ; but the devil often crosses my path and leads me down the road to sin. I do not wish to follow his ways, but rather to cleanse myself with the holy water to follow in the path of Christ. My heart is pure and for my Lord. I feel an overflowing love and adoration for my savior Christ. I hear the promises my Lord makes in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1212). I hear his calling and I follow him, to live a life of purity and the need for nothing more than my faith in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ; for I understand that this life in the present moment is but temporary, the starting point for a life of eternity in Christ that is yet to come.


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Image Credits: Amazon

Before I start this review I must admit that I am a little embarrassed to admit that I am 25 years old and had just finished reading Judy Blume’s famous novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

But I’m not embarrassed for the same reasons most other 25 year old women may be.

It’s not because of the content of the novel or the fact that it’s young adult written for pre-pubescent pre-teens.

No.

It’s because it’s written by Judy Blume, my all-time favorite writer who is 90% of the reason I decided to become a writer, and I’m 25 years old and just now getting around to reading it.

I always wanted to read this novel. I know that this is a very controversial book that was widely banned especially when it was first released back in the 1970’s. I have read every single one of Judy Blume’s other books, some as many as three or more times. Somehow this book always ended up on the back burner and I never ended up getting to it as a child.

But when I saw it on display at the Margaret Heggan Library two weeks ago, I know I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I had to check it out and see just what this book was about.

I was a little nervous to read this novel. I had such high opinions of Judy Blume. The only novel of hers I read and didn’t like was “Wifey”. Wifey read like an old-school version of 50 Shades of Grey — it was just trashy. I expected more from my favorite writer. But I forgave her for that. If Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret ended up being trashy, would I be able to forgive her again, or would it permanently change my opinion of my favorite writer?

I have heard many different stories over the years about the content of this novel and why it was banned. The most common story I heard is that it was very sexual and focused heavily on female masturbation for young girls going through puberty. In reality, this novel contained not a single sentence about masturbation.

It was a coming of age novel that discussed changes that 12 year old girls go through regarding their bodies and puberty in general, of course, but there was nothing “explicit”  about it. It really didn’t even mention sex at all. For the young adult audience that Blume was writing for, it was perfect. It was insightful, informative, easy for her target audience to relate to, and not over the top or trashy. I don’t have kids, let alone a 12 year old daughter, but if I did I would be more than okay with having her read this novel. In fact, I’d encourage it.

As I read through this novel, I remembered and reflected a great deal on my own pre-pubescent late elementary/early middle school days. There were the constant rumors, the cattiness, the gossip about boys, the general curiosity about the world and the changing of bodies and life in general. And for some, even the bigger issue that Blume so openly and boldly chose to discuss: the declaration or even outright questioning of religion.

I had a very hard time understanding why this book was banned. Have things really changed that much since it was first published in the 1970s? It doesn’t seem that way. I mean sure things are much more sexualized now with 50 Shades of Grey (don’t think for an instant 12 year olds aren’t reading that, I can pretty much guarantee you that they are, whether their parents know about it or not).

But was it really horrific in the 1970s to mention about female bodies changing, girls liking boys and the comments that boys made about their female classmates bodies, choosing a religion, and all of these topics that come in to play as a general part of growing up? It seems strange to me. This was life and Blume did a great job demonstrating a very realistic view of it that any normal woman (or Blume’s target audience — 12 year old girls) can connect and relate to.

Sure, the book is a little awkward to read, but that’s the point. Being a 12 year old girl is an awkward event.

Maybe people criticized this book because they didn’t want to accept the truth and reality of what their preteen daughters were really thinking, experiencing, and going through at the time.

What can we say? Truth hurts sometimes.

Or at the very least, the truth can be awkward.

Regardless, Blume captured it all exceptionally well and earned 5 out of 5 stars from me.


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Image Credits: Yale

In the mid 1900’s, Virginia Woolf published a collection of essays. Among these essays was “The Angel in The House”, an essay where Woolf describes her life as a female writer. During this time period, women were beginning to gain more freedom than what they had in the 19th century, but they were still often viewed as inferior to their male counterparts. Woolf discusses this by using the angel in the house as a metaphor for female purity and wholesomeness. Women during this time period were expected to  be modest, innocent, pure, or simply angelic.

In “The Angel In The House”, Woolf describes how she fought hard to kill the Angel in the House. This represents the author’s struggle to break free of society’s expectations of women. She doesn’t want to play the role of the pure, angelic, innocent woman anymore. Woolf also mentions how playing the role of the angel in the house can hinder a woman’s writing. She explains this by stating:

For, as I found, directly I put pen to paper, you cannot review even a novel without having a mind of your own, without expressing what you think to be the truth about human relations, morality, sex. And all these questions, according to the Angel in the House, cannot be dealt with freely and openly by women; they must charm, they must conciliate, they must – to put it bluntly – tell lies if they are to succeed. Thus, whenever I felt the shadow of her wing or the radiance of her halo upon my page, I took up the inkpot and flung it at her. She died hard (Woolf 46).

From this quote we can infer that Woolf wished to speak honestly in her writing about such taboo topics as sex, morality, and human relations and that her honest opinions went against what the majority of women were expected to think or feel. Perhaps Woolf wasn’t the picture portrait of an angelic woman she was supposed to be. However, breaking free of this stereotypical role was no easy task for Woolf as she further elaborated:

She was always creeping back when I thought I had dispatched her. Though I flatter myself that I killed her in the end, the struggle was severe (Woolf 46).

Here I think it is important to remember Woolf’s struggle with mental illnesses such as depression (which ultimately lead her to commit suicide years later). I think that Woolf’s struggle to break free of society’s norms and the roles she was expected to play took a toll on her mental health and helped to aid in her depression. It is sad to think that a women just simply couldn’t be free to live her life on her own terms during this time period.

In addition to the expectation of living a pure, modest, angelic lifestyle, women were also viewed as being inferior to men. Men had so much more freedom in their life and especially in their writing than woman had. They could speak or write freely without having to worry about what society would say. On the other hand, there were some topics that were simply off limits for women to speak and to write about. Woolf once again hints at her desire to write about human sexuality, a topic that seems to get squashed by fear of what society, or men in particular, would think reading such work written by a women. Woolf elaborates on this point by saying:

To speak without figure he had thought of something, something about the body, about the passions which it was unfitting for her as a woman to say. Men, her reason told her, would be shocked. The consciousness of what men will say of a woman who speaks the truth about her passions had roused her from her artist’s state of unconsciousness. She could write no more.

Woolf seems to be hinting that she has strong sexual urges or experiences that she wishes to release in her writing. Perhaps she is using her writing as an outlet to not only tell about her desire, but further explore and examine her own personal sexual feelings. However, the fear of what society and men specifically would say and think about her keep her from writing her true feelings and opinions. Women during this time were viewed with utmost innocent and were not supposed to have any sexual desires. It was a double standard for men, who were free to feel lust, passion, and exhibit sexual longings and desires.

Although Woolf brags about defeating the Angel in the House, she admits that she couldn’t bring herself to overcome the inferiority brought upon her by the opposite sex. No matter how strong her yearning to write about her true feelings were, they were always repealed  by the stigmas. She could never truly be her true, open and honest self. The work we read by Woolf offered only small parts of who she really was inside.

Sexuality is something that Woolf struggled with throughout her life. A basic Google mentions that Woolf was sexually abused by her family and was also bisexual and struggling to hide lesbian affairs and her true feelings regarding sexuality. Others suggest that Woolf was actually a lesbian, but felt that she had to pretend to be straight for society’s sake. Woolf was also known to repress her sexual desires, which is something I can see in “The Angel in the House”.

I wonder how Woolf’s writings would have differed if they had been written today. Now we live in a time period where feminists are still fighting for equality, but women have many more rights and are much closer to achieving equality than they were in the mid 1900’s. Also, gay marriage is a hot topic that is becoming more and more accepted within our society. I think that if Woolf was alive today her writing would be much less censored because she wouldn’t feel the need to refrain from speaking her mind as much. I also think Woolf would be less of a feminist and more of a gay rights activist fully embracing her rumored lesbianism and I don’t believe she would have ever gotten married to any men.



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