Franny and Zooey

Franny and Zooey

Book - 2001
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The author writes: FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955, and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill.
Publisher: New York : Back Bay Books/Little Brown, 2001
ISBN: 9780316769020
0316769029
Branch Call Number: SAL
Characteristics: 201 p. ; 21 cm

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f
Fuzzy_Wuzzy
Jun 21, 2016

Being somewhat older now - I have to admit that I found "Franny and Zooey" didn't quite appeal to me as these 2 stories had when I first read them some 15 years ago. This is also the case that I've found with J.D. Salinger's other stories, as well.

Now, that certainly doesn't mean to say that I didn't enjoy reading "Franny and Zooey". No. It's just that it's now become very clear to me that these 2 stories were obviously written for the mindset of an adolescent.

And, there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that my way of thinking has matured a lot in the past 15 years and I have now grown beyond the point of closely identifying with the youthful characters who were the focus of these two stories.

Anyway - Since I'm being so honest about how I feel here - The best rating that I could ever give to "Franny and Zooey" would be just an average rating of 2.5 stars. (Which really isn't so bad - Is It?)

gordonma Apr 27, 2016

Both "Franny" and "Zooey" are excellent chapters in the story of the Glass Family, with a meaning and an influence far greater than such short stories usually possess.

"Franny" is a fairly straightforward story of a brilliant young woman, who unable to tolerate any longer the conceit of being around dumb and ordinary people devoid of spirituality, has an existential breakdown. "Zooey," meanwhile, is a more challenging story of Franny's cathartic recovery.

After reading "Zooey," J.D. Salinger's meandering 1957 novella, and then looking at the history of its publication in Kenneth Slawenski's excellent biography, "J.D. Salinger: A Life," I wasn't that surprised to know that this unusual story was unanimously and viciously rejected by the fiction department of "The New Yorker." However, since this was a work by J.D. Salinger, a most unusual and most gifted writer, the ordinary rules of what made good writing could be nudged aside.

And so, I shouldn't have been so surprised to read that William Shawn, then Editor in Chief of "The New Yorker," picked up "Zooey," and to the embarrassment of the fiction department worked with Salinger to revise the novel until it was published.

"Zooey," as a traditional piece of fiction, fails on many levels: it's too long, it's too confusing, it's too indulgent, etc. And I think the argument rings true that Salinger, like Jack London, while a master of the short story, was not particularly adept with the novel. Yes, “The Catcher in the Rye” is a classic novel, but it is an episodic adventure, a deft stitching of multiple short stories. "Zooey," meanwhile, is structurally indulgent, even excessive: the 155-page novel devotes the first half to a technically-astute introduction to Zooey Glass, his mother, and their messy apartment. Indulgently, almost absentmindedly, the pay-off from reading “Zooey” in its entirety arrives in the last quarter of the novel.

(There’s something about Zooey.) For me, "Zooey" is a book about many things. It’s a slice of life or a home movie of the Glass Family. It's a story about Zooey, Franny's older brother, teaching her to find the goodness in all people and to love them through the goodness in their actions, and in doing so restore Franny's faith in the world. It's about the development of Franny from emotional-intellectual-spiritual confusion to enlightenment. And "Zooey" is also about how a writer with an unhappy childhood, who survived Utah Beach, the Battle of the Bulge and of the Hurtgen Forest, who helped to liberate a Nazi concentration camp, learned to deal with the pain he had felt and horrors he had seen, and how he taught himself to live again.

In these ways, "Zooey" is an original and memorable answer to three questions:
1. How could it all go wrong?
2. When did we become so ordinary?
3. How can I live again?

"Zooey," despite its strange, indulgent execution and its diffuseness, is J.D. Salinger's clever and Zen answer to these questions:

To begin to know and to love others, one must know and love yourself. [2014-02-10]

modboi5 Jul 10, 2015

J.D.Salinger's intimate portrait of the Glass family is a watershed moment in modern American literature. Originally submitted as short stories appearing in the 'New Yorker', 'Franny' & 'Zooey' are the youngest siblings of the eccentric Glass family, struggling with spiritual and social dilemmas in mid century, post war New York. For readers who are only familiar with 'Catcher in the Rye', 'Franny & Zooey' will be a revelation!

j
jenoteacher
Nov 25, 2014

I remember liking this book in high school, but - surprise surprise - twenty and some years later I find can't relate to it anymore. The characters are misfits who can't find purchase in their adult lives. They have breakdowns, act badly, go on desperate searches for meaning - all of which sounds like good reading. But what doesn't line up for me now is Franny and Zooey's turn towards Christianity as an answer. The religious quest part of the plot rings hollow. I wonder how it would strike a religious person? The scene with Franny talking to Zooey posing as Buddy on Seymour's phone was a memorable one though. The writing has a lot of style, which makes it a fun read, but I never came to love or relate to the characters as much as I wanted to.

j
joliebergman
Apr 30, 2014

A breath of fresh, whirly twirly, topsy, turvey, all you need is love air.

shjohnso Sep 17, 2013

could not get into it

l
Lucchesa
Aug 02, 2013

I was not particularly into Catcher in the Rye, so I never read any more Salinger. But thanks to a couple of well-placed Franny & Zooey references in my life recently, I picked it up & am glad I did. Salinger, as he describes one of his characters, is a verbal stunt pilot. I'm reading a self-motivation book at the same time, & it's interesting how well the two mesh as the core theme is doing what you desire with all your heart.

This was on the Young Adult shelf despite the fact that its major characters are 20 and 25. There is no real sex here, no language stronger than Goddamn (it's funny to read dialogue where all the goddamn this or that would be f***ing this or that in modern parlance), a lot of religion. There is a ridiculous amount of smoking, though, and some martinis. The book originated as stories in the New Yorker, so certainly Salinger was aiming at a mature audience. Is it just Catcher that made this YA by association, or have the times changed so much that this now seems to fit the category?

ruthiepaint May 08, 2012

Very fluid, and quirky.

m
macierules
Dec 30, 2011

I'm a huge Salinger fan and enjoy the antics of the quirky Glass family.

l
lisahiggs
May 16, 2010

I admire how well Salinger captured colloquial speech on the page, although it’s more the colloquial speech of television (or radio, as Salinger calls it) than of real life. I didn’t enjoy the parts where it seems like a manifesto (presumably the author’s) is being spouted by characters in the story – isn’t that propaganda instead of literature?

I think Franny is pregnant.

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ndp21f
Dec 11, 2010

As much as anything else, it was the stare, not so paradoxically, of a privacy-lover who, once his privacy has been invaded, doesn't quite approve when the invader just gets up and leaves, one-two-three, like that.

n
ndp21f
Dec 11, 2010

I've just finished decoding a long letter that came from Mother this morning [. . .] surely the only woman in the world who can write a letter in invisible italics.

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Lucchesa
Aug 02, 2013

Lucchesa thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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