Monday, August 25, 2014

On Re-Reading "Franny and Zoey"

After reading and posting (7/12/14) about Joanna Rakoff’s new memoir about her connection to Salinger, I thought about how I hadn’t read his work since my teens and twenties, and maybe it was time to go back to it. I picked up his novel “Franny and Zoey” (1955), the story of a brilliant, talented, and neurotic sister and brother in their early twenties, the youngest members of a large New York City family of brilliant, talented, and neurotic parents and seven children. I remember now my reaction when I first read it: I both admired and didn’t totally “get” it. And I had a similar reaction when I finished it this time. I was as angsty, intense, self-involved and concerned about the big questions in the world as any 20ish young person (I still remember marathon all-night sessions in college earnestly and intensely discussing the meaning of life and other momentous topics), but even to me, this novel and these characters seemed, and seem, a bit “much.” I was going to go back to Salinger’s other fiction as well, but now I think I won’t. Don’t get me wrong: I do understand how this fiction resonated, and still resonates with, so many young people, and to some extent it did with me as well, at least the first time I read it. And I do admire Salinger's gift of capturing the extreme version of this late adolescent condition. I am definitely glad to have read it. But I don’t think I need to read any more now.
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