I am making my way through Salinger :)
The book opens with Franny meeting up with her boo and having some drinks. She is clearly unhinged, ranting and raving about the academicS at her college–one professor in particular. It might be due to my recent employment involving reading a lot of histories of victimization, but I thought this professor had raped her and that’s why she was falling apart for the first bit of the book. Neverfear, it’s just a standard quarter-life crisis! No harm, no foul! I had a similar one in college where I could literally not stand to be around half my professors because their heads were so far up their own asses. Unlike Franny, who spirals into an existential melt-down, I just switched majors. (My melt down was totally unrelated.)
Enter: Zooey, her elder brother who is an actor. Both are part of a brood of child prodigy intellectuals who were famous as youths but are pretty unstable as adults. It’s VERY The Royal Tenenbaums, complete with a sibling suicide and all! I bet Wes Anderson really loves this book…. So, Franny ends up on the sofa muttering abstract prayers to herself with her mother fretting over it and Zooey tries to intervene but just comes across as kind of judgemental and impatient. Until… he drops some wisdom from their deceased sibling on the scene. Bam! Read it and find out what he says!
That’s the book. Franny is slipping into complete nuttery and Zooey is inept at pulling her out of it until he channels Seymour.
Still, it’s Salinger, so the writing was great. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.” Franny
“Oh, no. No, no. Not wrong. I’ve never known you to be wrong, Bessie. Your facts are always either untrue or exaggerated, but you’re never wrong–no, no.” Zooey
In response to why he isn’t married,
“I like to ride in trains too much. You never get to sit next to the window any more when you’re married.” Zooey
“He had a theory. Walt, that the religious life, and all the agony that goes with it, is just something God sticks on people who have the gall to accuse Him of having created an ugly world.” Zooey