Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters

My initial reaction is that I like this novella nearly as much as I detested The Catcher in the Rye (henceforth, "Catcher"). Perhaps I am already seeing some Tenenbaumian connections too.

Salinger dedicates the book, which also includes, "Seymour An Introduction," as follows:

"If there is an amateur reader still left in the world - or anybody who just reads and runs - I ask him or her, with untellable affection and grattitude, to split the dedication of this book four ways with my wife nad children."

I wonder if I am such an amateur reader. Certainly, I have read Salinger before, and if there is such a thing to be had, as an English major, I have had training in "how to read" critically. Can I put all of this aside and read Salinger fresh, with some form of naissance? I hope so, as I am trying to read Salinger with a new lens and to remove any preconceptions about him and his works.

And so the story begins...

We learn that the Glass family is rather large, seven children in fact, populate the Glass Universe: Seymour, Buddy (the narrator), Beatrice (nicknamed Boo Boo), the twins (Waker and Walter), Franny, and Zooey. Their parents (Les and Bessie) are retired Vaudevillians.

Sidebar: Why do I always think "Les" looks better with a lowercase "l" ("les") than with a capital one? Maybe I have read too much French??

Sidebar: The description of the entire family is a little reminiscient of the description of James Cagney's family in "Yankee Doodle Dandy" which was (co)incidentally released in 1942, the year that Buddy enters the army. Though overall the story reminds me more of William Wyler's accalimed, "The Best Years of Our Lives," released in 1947. I don't know if this is because Salinger lived the experience of these films, or had seen them, or both. Perhaps I should read his letters...?

... to be continued...

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