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Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

27 Jun

So chances are almost everyone had to read The Catcher in the Rye. And most everyone loves it. It baffles me that more people haven’t read Franny and Zooey–it’s angsty and awesome and existential, even more so than Catcher.

Published:1961. “Franny” was published as a short story in 1955, “Zooey” as a novella in 1957.

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

Genre: Fiction

Difficulty: Not difficult.

Quick Read?: Fairly. I read this on a commuter train over 2 days.

Synopsis: In “Franny,” the first part of the book, we see young Franny arrive at an Ivy League college to attend a football game with her beau, Lane. She brought with her a book she has been reading for a religion class called The Way of the Pilgrim, which inspires her to repeat prayer over and over until it becomes like a “heartbeat.” This focus on her prayer, and her inattention to both her date and the upcoming football game, cause her to collapse.

The second part of the book, “Zooey,” tells the story of Franny’s older brother as he discusses the nature of life, prayer, and religion with her. Her collapse when she was with Lane has meant she needed to come home, where she sleeps on the couch and does little else. Though we first meet Zooey (an aspiring actor) smoking in the bathtub, he is eventually able to calm her down and give her closure by sharing with her a secret from their past.

Day-umm. Don't let anyone tell you Salinger wasn't sexy.

What makes this book awesome?: I mostly answered this above, but, it seemed to me like a more existential, older version of what we see in the unforgettable Holden Caulfield: angst, growing up, corruption, and authenticity. This felt like a more “grown-up” kind of work, like the next step for any Salinger-lover (or curious reader, for that matter). The amount of wonderful language and existential reach in such short works is astonishing as well.

If you like this, you might like: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, Frank O’Hara’s poetry, Howl by Ginsberg, anything by Nabokov, The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, Nine Stories by Salinger