Here is one great book I read this summer. I never considered myself a massive fan of J.D Salinger. I'd read "The Catcher in the Rye" but it hadn't struck me as an instant classic like other books like "The Waves" by Woolf or "Tender is the Night" by Fitzgerald. Those are books that when you turn the last page, you are changed, your mind is a little bigger, wider, you feel a bit enlighted. None of that happened with Salinger; I liked the book but not to the status of icon where most people place it. However, "Franny and Zooey" was an unexpected surprise. I'll admit I bought it because of its author and its length (I was about to go on a trip and needed something light, in weight)
It is November 1955. Princeton University. Franny Glass experiences an existential crisis while dining with her egocentric boyfriend and returns to the Glass home in New York where Zooey, her older brother, attemps to make sense of it all.
I know the synopsis written above is short, vague and not very informative but I don't want to give anymore. You need to read the book with no previous thoughts or prejudices to admire it in its greatness. Its aesthetic is like nothing I have ever read before; you can clearly picture in your mind the atmosphere, clothes, decoration... you can almost smell the smoke coming from a lit cigarette or the scent of shaving cream.
It will be like you are there. So prepare yourself, get your 50s frocks out and be ready for the Harvard vs Yale.
As I have said before, I am not a skilled communicator (I blame it on my billingual brain...) but I am giving you an extract of an article from "The New York Times" about the book.
"Franny and Zooey" by J. D. Salinger"
Review by JOHN UPDIKE
Quite suddenly, as things go in the middle period of J. D. Salinger, his later, longer stories are descending from the clouds of old New Yorkers and assuming incarnations between hard covers. "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters", became available last year in "Stories from the New Yorker 1950-1960", and now "Franny" and "Zoey" have a book to themselves. These two stories -- the first medium-short, the second novell-lenght-- are contiguous in time, and have as their common subject Franny's spiritual crisis.
Few writers since Joyce would risk such a wealth of words upon events that are purely internal and deeds that are purely talk. We live a world, however, where the decisive deed may invite the holocaust, and Salinger's conviction that our inner lives greatly matter peculiarly qualifies him to sing of an America where, for most of us, there seems little to do but to feel.
Introversion, perhaps, has been forced upon history; an age of nuance, of ambiguous gestures and psychological jockeying on a national and private scale, is upon us, and Salinger's intense attention to gesture and intonation help make him, among his contemporaries, a uniquely relevant literary artist. As Hemingway sought the words for things in motion, Salinger seeks the words for things transmuted into human subjectivity. His fiction, in its rather grim bravado, its humor, its morbidity, its wry but persistent hopefulness, matches the shape and tint of present American life. It pays the price, however, of becoming dangerously convoluted and static. A sense of composition is not among Salinger's strenghts, and even these two stories, so apparently complementary, distinctly jangle as components of one book.
Read the full article here