Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger came in 115 on the combined lists of the 100 greatest 20th Century novels. This is a very interesting book for several reasons that only have a little to do with the actual book.
Salinger, sometime after this book was published decided not to publish any other books. He of course also authored the Catcher and the Rye and sometime shortly after this he got fed up with the process. And Franny and Zooey was meant as a set of stories following the Glass family. Salinger even mentions there are more coming in the book notes, but it was not to be. Sometimes occasionally the story or history of a book becomes more interesting than the book, and that is almost the case here.
So what about the book? It is actually two stories in one the first following Franny, the youngest Glass child (although you don't find that out until reading Zooey). Basically the entire thing takes place in a diner and only involves two characters, Franny and her boyfriend Lane. Franny just returned from college and they are grabbing a bite to eat before going to the big game.
Only Franny is acting funny and doesn't want to eat. And she gets worse. She goes to the bathroom. She starts to sweat. And she tries to explain to Lane the book she is reading and the Jesus Prayer.
And that is about it. This goes on for about 50 pages before the Zooey story starts. And it is the much stronger of the two. It follows Zooey Glass, the second youngest child. The 150 pages is broken up into two main parts after an initial few pages of introduction. The first is Zooey conversing with his mother while he takes a bath. Zooey is a real sarcastic fellow, and there is quite a bit of humor in this section. His mother who all the kids call Bessie, is concerned about Franny. This seems to be a day or two after the first story.
After this lengthy piece Zooey goes to the living room to talk to Franny. There isn't a lot here, but just their conversations and Zooey's lectures on his beliefs and religion. There is a little brother and sister banter, but it is mostly just Zooey talking on and on and Franny crying.
I loved the Catcher in the Rye, but this was a bit of disappointment. Salinger is still an excellent write, and much like Holden in the Catcher in the Rye, he really captures the voice of Zooey. But this story just doesn't go anywhere. And after 200 pages, something should have happened. Maybe something did and I just missed it. Strong writing and some funny dialogue save it though, but barely. 3 out of 5 stars.
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