A close friend warned me that I won’t enjoy this book as much as I might have, had I read it when I was a teenager. Yet, I went ahead with it, simply because I personally believe that reflecting on ideals, at any of the different stages of life (or reading, whatever floats your boat) is therapeutic and worth exploring. To that extent, this book is perhaps, as any cliched literature connoisseur might tell you, is the best reflection of teenage angst that has ever been penned. It is hard to dispute the fact, and I won’t, but what got me thinking was the underlying hints of mental health issues which are often dismissed as teenage outbursts. The extremity of the protagonist’s thoughts, the constant mood swings and even a slight suggestion of child abuse trauma made me ponder over the lack of conversation surrounding mental health development in adolescents. Even though we as a society are far more progressive with regard to the concept of wholesome development and health compared to the 1940s and 50s in America, the absence of systematic support to young adults affected by “teenage angst” is glaring.
The troubled life of the author of this classic in itself is a brilliant case for what a life without proper mental health interventions may turn out to be. The alleged semi-biographical nature of the book is reflected often in parallels between the protagonist’s and the author’s behaviour with regard to many things such as women (both demonstrated a rather dismissive and nonchalant approach towards women, and often gravitated towards women with wide age gaps) and society (their reclusive nature, disregard and divisive attitude towards “phones” etc.)
I intend to make my future kids read this book. Once they do so, I would take them out and talk to them, and perhaps figure out together where do the ducks go during winters 🙂
Cross-Posted on The Standing Coin