Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Franny & Zooey: No Tangerine stories, please.

I loved Franny and Zooey--this was my second time reading it and I enjoyed it even more than the first time.  There is a quirky combination of factors that I believe make this book one of the best ever written: it has very few characters and virtually no 'action' (which usually I despise but Salinger makes it work like a charm).  The characters use sarcasm heavily and harshly (paired with the use of italics that makes the characters' voices really come alive) and yet it is abundantly clear that they love and cherish one another deeply. And after all the sarcasm, cutting down, and humor, the book has an extremely powerful ending that seems to solidify their relationships with each other and with the world around them.

That said, just a few of my favorite quotes (on the humorous side of things):

Zooey to Bessie, talking in the bathroom about the cause of Franny's ailment (which takes up nearly half of the book, brilliantly.):
"You're absolutely right. You're absolutely right. It's staggering how you jump straight the hell into the heart of a matter. I'm goosebumps all over. . .By God, you inspire me. You inflame me, Bessie. You know what you've done? Do you realize what you've done? You've given this whole goddam issue a fresh, new, Biblical slant. I wrote four papers in college on the Crucifixion--five, really--and every one of them worried me half crazy because I thought something was missing. Now I know what it was. Now it's clear to me. I see Christ in an entirely different light. His unhealthy fanaticism. His rudeness to those nice, sane, conservative, tax-paying Pharisees. Oh, this is exciting! In your simple, straightforward, bigoted way, Bessie, you've sounded the missing keynote of the whole New Testament. Improper diet. Christ lived on cheeseburgers and Cokes. For all we know, he probably fed the mult--"
"Just stop that, now," Mrs. Glass broke in, her voice quiet but dangerous. "Oh, I'd like to put a diaper on that mouth of yours!"

"He's so conceited he's actually humble, the crazy bastard." -Zooey describing a coworker

Here's Zooey telling Franny how her behavior is hard on their parents, Les & Bessie (who are always referred to by their first names):
"It's terrible for them--and you know it. Did you know, God damn it, that Les was all for bringing a tangerine in to you last night before he went to bed? My God. Even Bessie can't stand stories with tangerines in them. And God knows I can't. . . . . I wish to hell you'd go back to college. . . . . where, God knows, nobody'll have any urges to bring you any tangerines. And where you don't keep your goddam tap shoes in the closet."

I could go on--the book is full of rich selections--but I'll leave it at that and simply encourage everyone to read 'Franny & Zooey."

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