ARTICLE FROM THE TIMES --- WEEKEND REVIEW - AUGUST 21ST 2004
Whatís Not To Like
Review of Catcher in the Rye by Darren Hayes
Like so many before, singer Darren Hayes saw himself in the Catcher In The Rye.
I missed out on The Catcher in the Rye the first time round. I did well at school against the odds - I came from a working class suburb - but I read only stuff like Stephen King. I hadnít been exposed to well-respected writers. I studied literary theory for a semester at university, but the lecturer only put me off. I was prejudiced against "classic" novels _ I had a kind of inverted snobbery.
A friend gave it to me on my 28th birthday. I let her choose all my books for me now. At the time, I felt like the only male on the planet who had read the book. I thought Holden Caulfield was me. I remember talking to a friend about it, and saying, "Have you read this book?" and of course he rolled his eyes, sat me down, and told me everybody identified with Caulfield.
The Catcher in the Rye epitomises American idealism of the 1950ís. I visited Manhattan for the first time shortly before I read the book, and I wanted to live there. To this day, I still associate New York with J.D. Salinger - not Woody Allen or anybody else.
It didnít matter to me that I was so much older than Caulfied, because the book tapped into my feeling of being an outsider. Being artistic and creative and coming from my socio-economic background, I have always felt as though nobody understood my journey, which is exactly how Caulfield feels. It didnít strike me as an adolescent tale, but a story of a progressive thinker. It was shocking to get to the end of the novel and discover that society perceived him to be clinically insane.
Caulfield hates things that are phoney, and I sympathise with that. When I first went to celebrity events, I felt as if I was standing outside a glass cage looking in at these vacant people whose gestures and words I couldnít understand. I still reject the concept of celebrity - thatís what my new single is about. After my first solo album was released, I was fed up with the music industry, and went to screenwriting school. I thought I would make The Catcher in the Rye into a movie - until I found out that Salinger has always refused film rights to his work. He often defends his decision by saying that Holden Caulfield wouldnít like it.
I love Wes Andersonís films, and I think he has very cleverly appropriated some of the trademarks of Salingerís writing. In Rushmore, the central character reminds me of Caulfield, and the family in The Royal Tenenbaums is like a parody of the Glass family in Fanny and Zooey, which Iím reading at the moment. Itís much lighter than The Catcher in the Rye; itís funny and optimistic, so to balance it, Iím reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. (Sylvia Plath was married to the Poet Laureate Ted Hughes).
Darren Hayes was one half of the pop star duo Savage Garden. His new solo single Popular is out on August 30th, followed by an album, The Tension and The Spark, on September 6th.