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Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger

Franny and Zooey (original 1961; edition 2001)

by J. D. Salinger

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11,529131233 (3.98)2 / 227
Title:Franny and Zooey
Authors:J. D. Salinger
Info:Back Bay Books (2001), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

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Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger (1961)


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Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
I've never been much of a Salingerite (Salingerean?). Caulfield in Catcher drove me up a wall when I read it as a teen and this is the first time I've picked Salinger up since. No walls bore any unwanted attention with this book however, thankfully.

Zooey definitely had an abundance of Caulfield on the tip of his ego in my opinion but I found myself liking both the short story and the novella more than I thought I would. It did have a play-ish feel to it, as I've seen many mention in the reviews I've read. A lot of dialogue to get through in such a small quantity of prose. However, I don't think that the fact that the action is largely emotional or intellectual can really be construed as a complete lack of action on the part of each character. It felt, to me, that rather a lot was going on throughout. Honestly, I think that's what roped me into these stories on their own and combined more than anything else. I felt such movement in the characters and it seemed wonderfully capturing. Plus, it sparked a good deal of self awareness and thought which always makes for a "good book" in my opinion.

I don't know if I have a "favorite" part from the book but the predominant excerpt that keeps ringing for me is, "there isn't anyone anywhere that isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. Don't you know that? Don't you know that goddam secret yet? And don't you know- listen to me now- don't you know who that Fat lady really is?... Ah, buddy. Ah, buddy. It's Christ himself."

It's such a boiled down simplification of something so many seem to find so intellectually intangible. Going beyond the pretty charming visualizations of said Fat Lady that both children had at one point or another, the 'end all, be all' of the coined phrase, "...the Fat Lady sings" went round and round my head while I was reading this part. Everyone is the Fat Lady, the Fat Lady is Christ, Christ is everyone... well that's just goddam beautiful. ( )
  lamotamant | Jun 23, 2016 |
Wasn't a big fan of this to be honest. Franny is by far my favorite of the two stories, and there are parts in Zooey that I liked (particularly Zooey's conversation with his mother in the bathroom) but I was not really feeling it for most of the story, kind of felt like the story was pointless, and I was more or less forcing myself through the last 50 pages. It's not a long book at all, and I think it's one that would do well to be read in one sitting, breaking the reading down into several days really got in the way of my enjoyment I think, it took a long time to "settle in" to the book after every break. I think I will give this another go, some other time, and read it through in one sitting and I'll see how I feel about it then. But so far my least favorite out of the three Salinger I've read.
  zombiehero | Mar 25, 2016 |
"This is going to be a real doll of a weekend,...A chicken sandwich, for God's sake." The contents of a medicince cabinet, Epictetus and the Fat Lady, too. ( )
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
It's as if the story was a train track and the reader is the train. The author (conductor of the train) stops the train suddenly and there is so much more track to be explored! It was good! Confusing at parts and left the reader with SO many questions! ( )
  imagine15 | Mar 15, 2016 |
The first part, "Franny," is significantly shorter than the second. It takes place in an unnamed college town during the weekend of "the Yale game" and tells the tale of an undergraduate who is becoming disenchanted with the selfishness and inauthenticity she perceives all around her.

The second much longer section is named for "Zooey", Franny's brother, older by five years, a somewhat emotionally toughened genius who at the age of twelve had "a vocabulary on an exact par with Mary Baker Eddy's." As Franny suffers a spiritual and existential breakdown in her parents' Manhattan living room – leaving Bessie, her mother, deeply concerned – Zooey comes to her aid, offering what he thinks is brotherly love, understanding, and words of sage advice.

[edit] Plot summary

[edit] First part: "Franny"
This section concerns Franny Glass's weekend date with her collegiate boyfriend, Lane Coutell. The location of "Franny" is unclear; but John Updike, reviewing the book in The New York Times, wrote: "In the first story, she arrives by train from a Smith-like college to spend the week-end of the Yale game at what must be Princeton." Franny is carrying with her a book, which turns out to be The Way of a Pilgrim, a Russian religious text that explores the idea of continuous prayer and spiritual illumination.

The two go out for lunch. He takes Franny to a fashionable lunch spot, and tries to impress her with his news of receiving a suggestion to publish his latest paper on Flaubert. Franny appears upset, questioning the importance of college education and the worth of Lane's friends. She eats nothing, and is smoking, sweating, and feeling faint, and must excuse herself to visit the restroom, where, after a crying spell, she regains her composure. She returns to the table, where Lane questions her on the small book she has been carrying. She responds nonchalantly that the book is titled The Way of a Pilgrim and tells the story of how a Russian wanderer learns the power of "praying without ceasing." The "Jesus Prayer," as it is known, involves internalizing the prayer to a point where, in a manner similar to a Zen koan, it becomes unconscious, almost like a heartbeat, ultimately leading to spiritual enlightenment. Lane is less interested in the story than in keeping their timetable for the party and football game, though when Franny faints, he tends to her and postpones the weekend's activities. After she wakes, he goes to get a taxi, and leaves Franny alone — practicing the act of praying without ceasing.

[edit] Second part: "Zooey"
This section continues the story of Franny's "nervous breakdown" and takes place on Monday, two days after Franny's trip to Princeton. It also elaborates on the story of the Glass Family: The unusual upbringing of the Glass children, with radio appearances as child geniuses and philosophy around the dinner table, has created a unique bond among them, and they understand each other more than anyone else could.

The story begins with Zooey, smoking and soaking in a tub, reading a four-year-old letter from his brother, Buddy. His mother, Bessie, enters the bathroom, and the two have a long discussion, centering upon Bessie's worries about his sister, Franny, whose existential depression seen in "Franny" has progressed to a state of emotional collapse. During the conversation, Zooey verbally spars and banters with his mother and repeatedly requests that she leave. Bessie tolerates Zooey's behavior, and simply states he's becoming more and more like his brother Buddy.

After Bessie leaves, Zooey gets dressed and moves into the living room, where he finds Franny on the sofa with her cat Bloomberg, and begins speaking with her. After upsetting Franny by questioning her motives for reciting the "Jesus Prayer," Zooey retreats into the former bedroom of Seymour and Buddy, Franny and Zooey's two older brothers, and reads the back of their door, covered in philosophical quotations. After contemplation, Zooey telephones Franny, pretending to be their brother Buddy. Franny eventually discovers the ruse, but she and Zooey continue to talk. Knowing that Franny reveres their eldest brother, Seymour — the psychologist, spiritual leader, and confidante of the family, who committed suicide years earlier while on vacation with his wife ( which is also the focus of "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" a short story also by J.D. Salinger.) — Zooey shares with her some words of wisdom that Seymour once gave him. By the end of the call, as the fundamental "secret" of Seymour's advice is revealed, Franny seems, in a moment reminiscent of a mystical satori, to find profound existential illumination in what Zooey has told her.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
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As nearly as possible in the spirit of Matthew Salinger, age one, urging a luncheon companion to accept a cool lima bean, I urge my editor, mentor and (heaven help him) closest friend, William Shawn, genius domus of the New Yorker, lover of the long shot, protector of the unprolific, defender of the hopelessly flamboyant, most unreasonably modest of born great artist-editors, to accept this pretty skimpy-looking book.
First words
Franny: Though brilliantly sunny, Saturday morning was overcoat weather again, not just topcoat weather, as it had been all week and as everyone had hoped it would stay for the big weekend - the weekend of the Yale game.
Zooey: The facts at hand presumably speak for themselves, but a trifle more vulgarly, I suspect, than facts even usually do.
Then, like so many people, who, perhaps, ought to be issued only a very probational pass to meet trains, he tried to empty his face of all expression that might quite simply, perhaps even beautifully, reveal how he felt about the arriving person.
I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.
The worst thing that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly.
The Glasses' living room was about as unready to have its walls repainted as a room could be.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316769029, Paperback)

The author writes: FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955, and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:00 -0400)

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Meet Franny and her younger brother, Zooey, in two Salinger stories.

(summary from another edition)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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