Catcher In the Rye didn’t make a huge impression on me when I read it in high-school, but I loved the Franny part of Franny and Zooey. James Wolcott has an excellent, short piece on why that’s his favorite part of Salinger’s work.
The New York Times also has a terrific obit of Salinger, emphasizing in particular the varied reactions people had to him (I like the phrase “either a crackpot or the American Tolstoy”, from the obit). I think one of the best illustrations of this varied reaction is dueling reviews the Times published of Catcher In the Rye in 1951. Here’s a bit of the negative one (the entire thing is written in mock Caulfieldese):
That’s the way it sounds to me, Hel said, and away she went with this crazy book. “The Catcher in the Rye.” What did I tell ya, she said next day. This Salinger, he’s a short story guy. And he knows how to write about kids. This book though, it’s too long. Gets kind of monotonous. And he should’ve cut out a lot about these jerks and all at that crumby school. They depress me. They really do. Salinger, he’s best with real children. I mean young ones like old Phoebe, his kid sister. She’s a personality. Holden and little old Phoeb, Hel said, they kill me. This last part about her and Holden and this Mr. Antolini, the only guy Holden ever thought he could trust, who ever took any interest in him, and who turned out queer–that’s terrific. I swear it is.
Holden’s story is told in Holden’s own strange, wonderful language by J. D. Salinger in an unusually brilliant novel, “The Catcher in the Rye.”