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Baker's Dozen

A Life Turning Pages: Robert Forster's Favourite Books
Aug Stone , April 8th, 2020 09:22

The Go-Betweens founder takes Aug Stone through his 'eclectic even to himself' reading tastes


J.D. Salinger - The Catcher In The Rye
The first book I read at school was A Tale Of Two Cities, which was an overwhelming experience for me. I hadn't read anything before and suddenly I've got something about five inches thick, set in the 19th century. As a boy of 13 or 14 I found it very boring, very slow, very big. It was a mountain to climb and I struggled through it. And then the next book we're told to read at school is The Catcher In The Rye. The first thing I noticed about it was that it was thin. Then in that first paragraph, the narrator says 'I'm not gonna tell you about my childhood, all that David Copperfield crap'. And I got that joke. I've just read Dickens and suddenly someone was going 'I'm not gonna do Dickens'. It was this amazing coincidence. I immediately fell in love with that book because in that first paragraph it dismissed and made fun of the book I'd been made to read before. I read The Catcher In The Rye at age 14 or 15, which was the perfect age to read it, that adolescent voice – confused, bragging, vaguely anti-authoritarian – I just fell in love with the central character. I was at an age where every book was a surprise to me. Looking back on it, with what I was aware of at the time, what I love about the book is that it's before the era of the teenager. It came out in 1951, even before Elvis, so there's no rock & roll in it. It's teenage rebellion before teenage rebellion becomes coded and a mass media phenomenon, and becomes a phenomenon within itself through rock & roll from the mid-50's onwards. So the book is a precursor to it all - that's what I love.