The book was very popular with the reading public, spending 26 weeks at the top of The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list in 1961 and 1962, but critics gave it mixed reviews. John Updike felt that Salinger's work was more than adequate. He praised Salinger's characterizations, saying that they "melt indistinguishably together in an impossible radiance of personal beauty and intelligence". He also pointed out that Salinger has a "correctly unctuous and apprehensive tone". But some thought that Salinger shamed himself with this particular piece of work. Janet Malcolm quotes Maxwell Geismar who called it an "appallingly bad story", and George Steiner who even called it "a piece of shapeless self indulgence". More recently, in 2011 Jay McInerney criticized the creation of the "self satisfied Glass family", but also said that the story showed Salinger's "evolving beliefs".
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