Franny and Zooey

After Salinger's recent death during the spring, I decided to tackle another one of his books. I read Catcher in the Rye for the first time last summer, but found this combination of two separately published short stories a tougher read. I was also struck by the parallels between the Glass family and Wes Anderson's 2001 Royal Tenenbaums, but on a superficial level: both are stories about precocious brothers and sisters who have recently entered adult-hood.

After reading the shorter half of Salinger's book "Franny," I was intrigued but also overwhemingly confused. "Zooey" did little to clear up this confusion for me, and it wasn't until a few months later after thinking about the novel and skimming a few critical reviews that I gained a better understanding of the two stories.

If Franny is facing two options in life while talking over a chicken sandwich with her Flaubert-fascinated boyfriend, her brother Zooey faces a similar struggle in front of his mirror. 

"Salinger's Zooey deplores the fake world of television work. Plath gives us the hype of the woman's magazine, Heller, the mutual- and self-deception of the corporate headquarters. Kesey and Pynchon render brief, nightmarish visions of factory and corporation.... Only Salinger, in what strikes me as a slight of hand, manages to retrieve a sense of wholeness... through the spiritual device of  the Fat Lady" from  Richard Ohmann's  "The Shaping of a Canon: U.S. Fiction, 1960-1975" in Critical Inquiry 10.1

I like the idea of this novel being entered into the literary cannon of sixities and seventies literature because it fits in with the (at times) comical but (more often) depressing view of the world and the US.

The Moviegoer


Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1938)

Risking becoming a crazy Fante-phile, I began reading my second Bandini book last week as a little break from working on finals. Like Bukowski's Ham On Rye (1982), the story focuses on childhood, dysfunctional families, and coming of age.

The story is mostly told from the younger Bandini's point of view, but shifts to his father's point of view-- showing that the generations are not so different. The novel also explores the hopelessness of love but with and interesting twist-- Bandini does not know whether to be mad at his father Svevo for cheating on his mother and leaving the family, or proud of him for being with the richest, blonde American woman in town.

The climax in this transition from boy to man for Bandini is affected by having to decide which of his parents is right and which is just weak. His father Svevo works (sometimes) as a bricklayer, smokes cigar stubs, and gambles and drinks away his family's money, and of course his mother is a saint-- white, pure, and scrubbed clean. I think Bandini does realize that both of his parents are strong individuals in very different ways, but he also begins to see that undeniably he is his father's son.

The title comes from Bandini's love for baseball-- he wants to begin playing as soon at the snow melts from the grass on most of the field, but the other boys roll their eyes and tell him to wait until spring.