Monday, May 24, 2010

Is that your final answer?

Current book: Franny and Zooey
Pages read: 3 - 91

I had to buy this book, which was annoying. The library's copies all had holds on them. No idea why some random Salinger book is in great demand, but there you are.

So far, nothing has happened. I'm not even kidding. The 90ish pages that I read pretty much consisted of two long conversations. The information boils down to this: the Glass family consists of seven children separated by nearly 18 years. Franny and Zooey are the two youngest members. They all, at one point, competed on a quiz show called It's a Wise Child. The eldest brother, Seymour, who was quite a prodigy, offed himself a couple of years ago. Franny is at college, but has just had a nervous breakdown and returned home. She's refusing to eat and thinks the world is made up of people not worth knowing; she thinks that everyone's the same, and all of it is a sham. (Not unlike Holden Caulfield.) We learn this when we see her have lunch with her boyfriend, Lane, before the mental breakdown. Anyway. Zooey, who's slightly older than Franny (and a boy, which I wasn't expecting, what with the name and all), is a successful television actor, also living at home, who is constantly annoyed by his overprotective mother, who wants him to get an advanced degree instead of acting. Buddy, another brother and the narrator of much of this, teaches English at a prep school in New England and watches over Zooey by way of letters; several years earlier, he encouraged Zooey to pursue acting rather than higher ed.

That's where we are. Things are pretty much static. I'm kind of expecting that they'll remain that way right until the end, when there will probably be a suicide or two.

It's very Salinger. So much so, in fact, that I don't find it altogether different from Catcher in the Rye, really. I don't know; the major problems of the characters seem to be the same, which is that they are overcome with the ennui of life and are having difficulty identifying that which is important to them as well as their own self-images - except it's less entertaining than Catcher because the narrative voice isn't as quirky and evocative. (Seriously, there's one line in the first few pages of Catcher where Holden's talking about a friend with whom he's horsing around at Pencey Prep, and he goes, "I landed on him like a goddamn panther." One of the best moments of my high school reading career, right there.) We'll see if it improves.


  1. I will never forget how much that "panther" line tickled you. Having said that, I also remember me really liking Franny and Zooey when I read it a zillion years ago. I hope you eventually come to enjoy it as well.

  2. I clearly remember the "panther" reaction. lol



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