Thursday, January 05, 2006

Franny and Zooey

J.D. Salinger is a master of the written word. His short stories are wonderful, and his short novels are great, too. I'm glad Catcher in the Rye made him rich and famous, even though it's my least favorite of his books. For some reason, his other books didn't reach people en masse; they are, what, too esoteric for the general public?

Franny and Zooey is about the Glass family, as are all Salinger's books, in one way or another. All seven of the Glass siblings are geniuses. And they all have somewhat normal lives in spite of that handicap. Seymour is the most gifted and has the most difficulty in adjusting to the world, and in the end he commits suicide, but up until the moment he kills himself, he is striving to be happy, trying to live in this everyday world, and to understand how other people, who do not happen to be geniuses, manage to survive. Franny, the youngest in the family, is born when Seymour and Buddy, the two oldest, are on the brink of adulthood. They decide that the right way to raise her is to teach her about spirituality before she learns anything else. So now she is not only a genius, but a saint-in-training. Franny and Zooey is the story of how she completes her education, finally coming to an understanding that spirituality can be the key to happiness, when you can see how it connects with the real world. The story is told with great humor. I laughed, I cried, I came away with a slightly different perspective on the world. This is a book that I have used to help me make sense of my life.

1 comment:

zooey said...

I like your comment on Salinger in general, and also on Franny and Zooey. I can't help but want to add many things; perhaps I just love the books too much. Anyway, I just was struck mostly by the fact that you have been most interested in Seymour and Franny in your post: did they seem the key players in the stories to you? Because Buddy and Zooey also hold a special place in the stories, and Boo Boo, Walt and Waker also, in their own short stories...but yeh, my question: did Seymour strike you as the most important, and then Franny (esp in Franny & Zooey)?