cOlbert's Book Club - Tobias Wolff & "The Catcher in the Rye"

  • Aired:  09/10/13
  •  | Views: 19,097

"This Boy's Life" author Tobias Wolff explains why he prefers Holden Caulfield to J.D. Salinger's Glass family. (5:45)

>> STEPHEN COLBERT PRESENTS, THEC-OLBERT BOOK CLUB, TONIGHT'S

SELECTION.

>> EVERYTHING BUT CATCHER IN THERYE, BY J.D. SALINGER.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

THE C-OLBERT BOOK CLUB! THANKSSO MUCH! J.D. SALINGER, OF

COURSE, IS BEST KNOWN FORCATCHER IN THE RYE, CONSIDERED

PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANTAMERICAN NOVEL THAT I DON'T GET.

NO SMALL ACHIEVEMENT CONSIDERINGTHE THOUSANDS OF OTHER NOVELS I

DON'T GET.

I MEAN, GOOD NIGHT MOON, ITMAKES NO SENSE.

THE MOON STAYS UP AT NIGHT.

IT SHOULD BE GOOD NIGHT, SUN,HELLO MOON, HAVE A GREAT

EVENING.

NOW, DON'T GET ME WRONG.

THANK YOU.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>> Stephen: FOLKS, DON'T GET

ME WRONG, I LOVE J.D. SALINGER'SSHORT STORIES ABOUT THE

BRILLIANT EMOTIONALLY FRAGILEGLASS FAMILY, THERE IS JUST

SOMETHING HABIT THESELF-ABSORBED ANXIETIES OF

EMOTIONALLY STUNTED RICH WHITEPEOPLE THAT REALLY SPEAKS TO ME.

THE POINT IS, I DON'T CARE IFMILLIONS CONSIDER CATCHER IN THE

RYE J.D. SALINGER'S BEST WORK,YOU WILL NEVER CONVINCE ME, HERE

TO CONVINCE ME IS THE AUTHOR OF"THIS BOY'S LIFE", PLEASE

WELCOME TOBIAS WOLFF.

TO BIAS, GOOD TO SEE YOU.

>> OKAY.

>> I'M SORRY.

CAN I -- WAS -->> I'M FINE, THANK YOU.

>> Stephen: MORE FOR DADDY.

ALL RIGHT.

I HAVE TO STAY HYDRATED.

NOW, TO BE BIAS, YOU BELIEVE.

>> TOBIAS, YOU BELIEVE THIS ISONE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN FORMS,

TRUE.

>> I THINK IT IS A WONDERFULNOVEL.

>> Stephen: DID IT INFLUENCEYOUR WORK.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> Stephen: BECAUSE "THISBOY'S LIFE" IS A COMING OF AGE

STORY IN WHICH YOU START OFF ASYOURSELF AS YOU END UP AS

LEONARDO DICAPRIO.

>> WHY DO YOU -- WHY DO YOUTHINK THIS IS A GREAT NOVEL AND

WHY DO YOU THINK IT TALKS TO OURKIDS?

>> WELL, I WOULD SAY TO BEGINWITH THAT I WISH IT WEREN'T

TAUGHT TO THE KIDS, BECAUSE -->> Stephen: AMEN.

>> PART OF THE EXPERIENCE OFFINDING THAT NOVEL FOR MYSELF

WAS THAT I FELT LIKE I WAS BEINGSUBVERSIVE WHEN I WAS READING

IT, BECAUSE HERE IS A BOOK THATWAS REALLY CALLING THE ADULT

WORLD AS I SAW IT THEN, A NESTOF HYPOCRISY, AND PHONINESS, AND

THAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TODISCOVER ON YOUR OWN.

YOU DON'T WANT YOUR ENGLISHTEACHER TO BE INTRODUCING YOU TO

THE HYPOCRISY OF ADULTS.

AND SO, YOU KNOW, I STILLREMEMBER THE NIGHT I READ IT.

I WAS IN A PLAY, AND I KEPTMISSING MY -- BECAUSE I WAS

READING THIS BOOK AND LAUGHINGSO HARD, SO IN HIS THRALL AND I

THINK WHEN YOU DISCOVER THE BOOKIN THAT WAY, IT STAYS WITH YOU

IN THAT WAY THE REST OF YOURLIFE.

YOU READ IT LATER, RIGHT?

>> Stephen: I DIDN'T READ IT.

IT WAS ASSIGNED IN TENTH GRADE,AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK I GET

HOLDEN CAULFIELD BECAUSE I SAIDI AM NOT GOING TO READ THAT.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>> Stephen: I AM MORE HOLDEN

CAULFIELD THAT HOLDEN CAULFIELD,REALLY.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: DO YOU REALLYTHINK WE SHOULD TEACH THIS STUFF

TO THE KIDS? BECAUSE IT HAD BADWORDS IN IT AND IT HAS A

PROSTITUTE IN IT AND THAT ISSOME SPICY STUFF. DO WE NEED TO

BE REINFORCING OUR KIDS BADBEHAVIOR AS TEENAGERS WITH THE

IDEA THEY COULD BE A CHARACTERIN A GREAT NOVEL? DAD, I WASN'T

DISOBEYING YOU, I WAS EXPLORINGMODES OF ALIENATION.

>> WELL, I WOULD CERTAINLY WANTTHEM TO BE INTRODUCED TO THAT

BOOK RATHER THAN BE TRAINED INPOMPOUSNESS, PRETENTIOUSNESS,

BOGUS SPIRITUALITY, SUCH AS YOUFIND IN THE CLASS STORIES.

>> Stephen: NOW, WAIT ASECOND.

WAIT A SECOND.

THE GLASS FAMILY STORIES, FRANNYAND ZOOEY, AND THE CARPENTERS,

EVEN DOWN AT THE DINGY IF YOUWANT TO.

>> THOSE ARE -->> Stephen: THOSE ARE SOME OF

HIS FINEST WORKS, SOME OF HISGREATEST WORKS.

YOU WILL ADMIT THAT OR YOU WILLPAY A PRICE.

>> WELL, IF YOU LIKE -->> Stephen: WHAT DO YOU HAVE

AGAINST THE GLASS FAMILY?

>> DO YOU LIKE TO READ SERMONSALL DAY?

>> Stephen: I GIVE THEM.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>> THERE IS A WONDERFUL LITTLE

MOMENT IN CATCHER IN THE RYEWHEN HOLDEN IS TALKING ABOUT THE

PREACHERS THAT COME TO TALK INTHE CHAPEL AND -- AT -- AND HE

TALKS ABOUT THIS HOLY JOE TONETHAT THEY TAKE ON, AND ODDLY

ENOUGH THAT IS THE TONE HE TOOKON WHEN HE WAS WRITING THESE

GLASS FAMILY STORIES.

>> Stephen: BUDDY GLASS WHOWRITES ALL OF THE STORIES, IT

EVEN IMPLIES HE WROTE CATCHER INTHE RYE, EVERYTHING.

>> EVERYTHING, RIGHT.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

HE SAYS ESSENTIALLY I KNOW THATI AM WRITING IMPERFECT STORIES

HERE AND I WILL BE GET LOST INMY OWN LO CONSTITUTIONS AND I

USE GOD IN A WAY THAT IS NOT ATHREE LETTER EXPLETIVE AND

ACTUALLY THINK OF HIM ASSERMONIZING.

HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING BUT ITIS A CONFESSION.

YOU ARE SEEING WHO SALINGERREALLY IS, YOU DON'T LIKE

SALINGER, HOW DARE YOU LIKE HISBOOK.

[ APPLAUSE ]>> Stephen: TOBIAS WOLFF.

"THIS BOY'S LIFE" IS ALSO PRETTYGOOD.

WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK