Having never read any J.D. Salinger before, I had extremely high hopes. Any person whose most famous book is one that has been banned from high school curricula over the years or at least from church camps, makes me certain to have that author on my reading list. Thus, I was excited to read Franny & Zooey. I was doubly excited because we already had a copy on our bookshelf.
At first, I was a little confused. I am definitely a chapter book kind of person. I say that in the most third grade way possible. I wanted chapters. I wanted something to start, happen, end, and then leave me in suspense so I would want to just glimpse at the first page of the next chapter and get sucked in. This was one thing I really loved about The Elegeance of the Hedgehog. I got none of this from Salinger. Franny & Zooey has only two chapters total, if you can even call them that. One is called "Franny" and the other is "Zooey." And as Moe put it in her post, for the longest time, nothing happens. You're reading and reading and thinking to yourself "who are these characters and how am I connecting with them...and what in the world is going on?"
It took me a long time to commit to saying I even liked the book for want of ability to identify a single thing I thought was interesting about it, although I will admit in the first few pages, I dog-eared this passage because it made me laugh out loud:
[describing Franny's boyfriend, Lane, as he greets her upon arrival at the train station]
"Then, like so many people, who, perhaps, ought to be issued only a very probational pass to meet trains, he tried to empty his face of all expression that might quite simply, perhaps even beautifully, reveal how he felt about the arriving person."
Once I finally made it into the second portion of the book about Zooey. I told Andrew that I didn't really think I liked Zooey all that much. He just made me so frustrated. It's funny that I had such a strong reaction to his character since I wasn't really that into the book at that point.
Eventually, after many short bus rides where I could only read a few pages at a time, I started to realize what Salinger was getting at. I found myself awake at 2 am wanting to read and finish the book in one sitting...and so I did. As any person who has experienced a truly extreme existential crisis would, I found myself relating to both Franny & Zooey and loving the book. Salinger had perfectly and poetically described the falling apart of worldviews that happened to me and to so many I know during time away at college.
I think I will definitely read it again and would like to read The Catcher in the Rye. I am sad I wasn't able to be there for the discussion, but good news: I also already have a copy of Edith Wharton's House of Mirth...see you all next month.