Friday, August 16, 2013


Franny and Zooey, J D Salinger, Little Brown and Company, 1961, 201 pp

I read all of Salinger, sadly not much, when I was very young, either in high school or college. Except for some of his short stories, I was infatuated. It was the first time I read fiction that echoed my inner life.

The thing is, whenever I read his books again, I feel the same way. Either I have not matured since my late teens or the concept of "maturing" is hogwash. I suspect it is the latter. When I read my old journals, I find I am pretty much the same person I always was.

Franny and Zooey are two long stories about the younger Glass family kids. I hadn't realized that Salinger had intended to go on writing about this family as a long term project until I read the jacket cover flap on my library copy. Perhaps he did go on writing about them in seclusion, but the only books that got published after this were Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, Seymour: an Introduction in 1963 and the last collection of his short stories in 1967.

The Glass family is probably a model for every dysfunctional family since. Compared to the pervasive idiocracy of contemporary American life though, the Glass family is dysfunctional because of their shared high intelligence, rather than their shared ignorance.

Franny and Zooey is almost completely dialogue and reads like a play with stage directions. Normally such a thing would bore me to death, but what dialogue! What humor! What pathos without any sentimentality. 

OK. Enough. It's a short book. It's not to every reader's taste. You'll know soon enough if it is to yours. I just have to say again how amazed I was to read this some 45 years later and feel the same things I did on the first reading.

The #2 bestseller in 1961. Looks like its going to be a good year.

(Franny and Zooey is available in hardcover and paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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