“Though brilliantly funny, Saturday morning was overcoat weather again, not just topcoat weather, as it had been all week and as everyone and as everyone had hoped it would stay for the big weekend — the weekend of the Yale game.”
The one (if only) enjoyable aspect of Eileen Favorite’s novel The Heroines is that it prodded me to finally pick up J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. The Catcher in the Rye was a one time bang and amazing read for me in high school (as well as an unassigned reading), but I always shied away from picking up the novel again. As far as reading any other novels from Salinger’s oeuvre, I consistently avoided them as it had been mashed into my high school brain The Cather in the Rye was the only Salinger novel worth reading. Roughly a decade later I waded through that pulpy mash of logic and spent quite a wonderful afternoon with Franny and Zooey.
Franny and Zooey Glass are two children from a rather large NYC intellectual brood that spent most of their childhood on a “Wise Child” radio show. The novel begins with Franny on a date with her boyfriend. Through their luncheon the reader witnesses Franny’s growing agitation with everything: food, smoking, her boyfriend, the conversation etc. This twists into some self-loathing, a lot of apologizing, and finally physical signs that something is not quite right: fidgeting, sweating, and finally fainting.
The second part of the novel picks up with Franny’s brother Zooey in the bath. Franny has returned home to go through her nervous breakdown, as it is put, and the reader gets a front row seat of the Glass family’s interactions and development. Like Catcher in the Rye, at least for me, there is that one shiny, jewel-like moment in the novel where as a reader I hold my breath, and I was thrilled with it. Throughout the entire novel Franny has been carrying a book The Way of A Pilgrim and has been chanting to herself the Jesus Prayer.
Franny and Zooey dives seriously into the complexities of religion and spirituality and what this means to the character as well as the meaning for the readers. There is the unveiling moment at the end of the novel (and I completely misconstrued the “fat lady” as an “Everyman” in the small lapse where she shows up and before Zooey explains his interpretation), which I was so fascinated with I have picked up a copy of The Way of A Pilgrim. I loved Franny and Zooey and once I have finished The Way of A Pilgrim I hopefully will return to it.
Other opinions: A Girl Walks Into A Bookstore.