Book Review (#5): Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

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Why, hello, lovely people! I’m back! Well, not that I ever intended to disappear for so long, but life has been a bit of a whirlwind and I’m still struggling to find my way around. But let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about books, and most specifically, my second shot at Salinger and just Salinger really.

Around May of 2013, I was finishing up school and I started reading the Catcher in the Rye, Salinger’s most popular novel. I think that was the prefect timing, and had I read it earlier or maybe even later, I wouldn’t have appreciated it nearly as much. There’s also the fact that it stuck around with me for quite a while –almost a month if I remember correctly. To know more about that, there’s a post all about it from back then.

So I honestly don’t know why it’s been this way with me and Salinger; either I take an incredibly long time to get through a book, or I go through it at a fairly normal speed but without really getting what’s going till the last few pages. Most of the time I was reading Franny and Zooey, I understood what the author was saying and I liked the way he said it –there were pretty words and sentences all over the place– I just wasn’t sure what he was trying to achieve with them and that really bothered me. The first 100 pages felt like a really long dialogue that I was never sure it was going anywhere.

This is why it felt rather great when things started clicking within the final 50 or so pages. We started to get to the root of Franny’s problems, which I partly began to relate to, and we also began to see Zooey’s frustration due to his deep understanding of his sister’s dilemma. The following sentence might be a spoiler if, like me, you don’t know the book’s main theme, and, like me, you’d rather find it out while reading the book. You have been warned. I think I can understand how depressing things could get when you reach that point where you feel you’re too knowledgable. You’re smarter than everyone so you see right through them, you’re quite aware of your faults, but you can’t control them, so that drowns you in disappointment. And that makes you turn to the one thing that most people fail to agree on and can’t fully explain: religion. Another warning, religion is brought up a lot in this story.

As for the writing, well, it’s masterful as is expected of Salinger. It was beautifully crafted and I have lots of pages tagged because of how beautiful it was. I think it’s a lot more elegant than the Catcher in the Rye since it tackles less troublesome characters and ideas. Most of the story happens inside an apartment, so very little is happening. It’s just a very long, profound conversation, bouncing off between three members of a family. It’s the kind of conversation I’d feel happy after going through; it’s just so intellectually gratifying.

I think I mostly like Salinger because he challenges me enough. It’s not twist after the next or lots of boring descriptions of just a display of his vast knowledge of English vocabulary. It’s a simple premise, with characters I can easily identify with, and a lot of self-discovery. I think that soon, when I’ve read a few more of Salinger’s stories, when someone asks me what kind of books are my favourite, I’d say, “Ones like J.D. Salinger’s.” And I’ll just have to hope they know what I mean.

So here. These are my still rather disconcerted thoughts about a book I finished around the beginning of the month but only got the courage to write about now. Let me know if you’ve read it or if you want to read it. And if you’ve read more Salinger books than I have, let me know how it compares to others.

Finally, I’d like to say that, hopefully, I’ll be posting once a week. And because I probably won’t be finishing a book every week, I have a couple of ideas for posts as back up.

 

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4 thoughts on “Book Review (#5): Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

  1. I read The Catcher In the Rye about the same time of my life as you – and never explored Salinger further. Maybe this will encourage me to dip in again. Good luck with once a week! I’m thinking about the same for my blog! Wondering if I can keep the promise I made myself.

  2. Welcome back! I have enjoyed all of Salinger’s works (unfortunately there aren’t that many). I read all of his Nine Stories last year – and while there are a few that aren’t that great, the good ones more than make up for that. “For Esme – With Love and Squalor” and “De Daumier Smith’s Blue Period” and “The Laughing Man” are the ones I thought were the best. A couple of the stories involve the Glass family and you have to have read all of Salinger’s Glass family writings in order to fully appreciate them.
    -Dale

  3. I read this when I was about 20, along with most of Salinger’s other work and remember loving it. I don’t know how well it would resonate now that I’m 40 though. I do know that ‘For Esme….’ was my favourite….

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