College student Franny Glass un-expectantly drops out of college and moves back home with her parents and older brother Zooey in the midst of an emotional and religious breakdown. Under the pressure of his mother, as well as his innate brotherly affection, Zooey steps in and tries to make sense of Franny’s religious upheaval.
I think for people who loved the pomposity in A Confederacy of Dunces, this book will be a welcome addition to the bookshelf. I’m still not quite sure where I stand. This is the first thing of Salinger’s I’ve read sans Catcher in the Rye. From my research, Salinger’s collection of shorts, Nine Stories, primarily centered around the Glass family. The Glass family is a rather large collection of incredibly brainy children who make repeated, if not constant, appearances on a radio show, It’s A Wise Child. Franny and Zooey is a further extraction of those characters from Nine Stories.
Franny has gotten her hands on a religious book, and is seeking to find ultimate spiritual fulfillment, but the road she travels leads her away from her family, her friends, and her interests and hobbies. Zooey steps in to try to help her make sense of the process, and put her transformation in perspective.
I found both Franny and Zooey to be annoying, and pompous in the “I’m better than you and everything and everyone else is below me and far too boring to retain my interest” vein. I could see why Salinger created characters like this. The brainy children who can see through the mundane norms of everyday life. This self-proclaimed elevated status was a drudge to read through, particularly the scene with Zooey and his mother chatting in the bathroom. I was very tempted to just stop reading the book, I was so frustrated with the mother for not getting a hint. I was also frustrated with Zooey for his rude demeanor with his mother. I just found the entire character list to be unlikable, from Franny’s ordinary boyfriend, to Zooey’s child-actor ego, and their father’s obliviousness to anything negative in their lives. For me, there was nothing to balance this skewed view on society. The commentary seemed too one-sided with nothing to counteract the Glass children’s view on society.
Book 55 of 2011This book was a selection from the Rory Gilmore Reading List