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Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
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Franny and Zooey (original 1961; edition 2001)

by J. D. Salinger

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11,087116253 (3.99)2 / 223
Member:Annie1398
Title:Franny and Zooey
Authors:J. D. Salinger
Info:Back Bay Books (2001), Paperback, 208 pages
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Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger (1961)

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Salinger obviously hates psychoanalysis (if you need no other evidence, there's the dream he gives Franny) but this book reads like a successful treatment of mental breakdown.

Franny can no longer go on with her life. She tries to have a date with Lane but her bets efforts lead to failure. She ends up back home lying on the living room couch, the destination of so many dysfunctional young adults.

If our current problems are a result of our history, Zooey blames the way Seymour and Buddy brought them up "as freaks" for the state they're in. At the same time, Zooey asks Franny if she'd like to speak to Buddy about her problem. Franny answers that she wants to speak to Seymour. Did the two oldest Glass siblings create their problem or have their solution? Or is it both?

As spiritual mentors, you couldn't pick a less successful lot. Seymour has already killed himself--not usually a sign of spiritual advancement. Buddy has severed connections to the world, but not as a monk, but an academic. He has no phone except the one he left behind in his (and Seymour's) childhood room. It's as if he's saying, when you phone me, you're really only trying to reach the person I used to be.

Zooey fails to argue Franny out of her depression. Any clinician could have told him he'd fail. It would be the equivalent of telling an anorexic that they were too thin and needed to eat.

In the end, Zooey succeeds, seemingly by allowing Franny to see that God is everywhere--including in the phonies and in the chicken soup that she has been refusing. From a psychoanalytic standpoint (not the psychoanalysis of the 50s, when Salinger was writing, but the psychoanalysis of today) you could say that Franny was trying to expel the noxious bad parts of herself by projecting them on others who she then experienced as hateful. Zooey allowed her to accept the rejected parts as good--expressions of God.

Or, you can say Zooey gave her what she was explicitly requesting, namely Seymour. What she was mourning for was Seymour and Zooey reconnected her with him by sharing their mutual experiences of him.

Ultimately, what makes F&Z work as a story isn't the clinical underpinnings but the reader's identification with being the too smart freak in a world of phonies. Who doesn't hate phonies, really? Even the phonies hate them, thinking they're someone other than themselves.

That and the clever theological dialog and the choice of details. I'm looking forward to seeing more Glass.
( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
Of course, everyone knows Salinger for Catcher in the Rye, a book I read before this blog began and so never reviewed. That book seemed to be about something. This does too but much less so. You have to dig a bit.

It’s a two part novel with each part focussing on a different siblings from a family of child prodigies. The two episodes take place within a short space of time of each other. The first is very short and takes place at a table in a restaurant. The secon, still short but longer than the first, takes place almost entirely in one room in the family apartment in New York. It could quite easily have been a play, I thought. This was because not only did almost all of it consist of dialogue, but Salinger goes to some lengths to describe slight movements and nuances of the situation which could easily be taken as italicised stage directions for the actors. I liked that.

There isn’t really a story. You find out a little about the backgrounds of each character involved (and there are really only four) but it’s only enough to really give you some idea of why they are the way they are. I say that, but I really only mean Franny and Zooey themselves.

Like I said, it’s a little tricky to ‘get’ this novel. I’m not sure I did. It seemed to me that Salinger was commenting on spirituality, family influences, maybe even depression and how the innocuous can reach out and slam those of us subject to it. On the whole, it was a novel that I thought went over my head but just high enough for me to grasp a couple of things from it. I’ll have to read more comments from others to see if I’m on the right track. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jun 13, 2015 |
Slightly better than Catcher in the Rye, Frannie and Zooey relate the tale of 2 siblings in a liberal, bourgeois family in the 50's. Frannie comes home from school with a crisis of conscious and Zooey, her older brother is helping her get through it. The first quarter of the book is narrating Frannie's breakdown and return home from college; the next quarter introduces Zooey and the rest of the family. The last half detail their conversation which revolves around a secular and faddish understanding of religion. ( )
  Hae-Yu | May 7, 2015 |
Actual Review on my blog here; in-a-nutshell excerpt below.

"...if you want a novella with actual action other than dialogue (and smoking. There's lots of smoking.) and believable characters who aren't authorial self-insertions or thinly-veiled Christ figures, skip this book. But if you're into some thoroughly decent theological insights wrapped in a Salinger story that reads like a particularly smoky Wes Anderson film, step right up. Read this book!" ( )
  pepperedmoth | Mar 7, 2015 |
Actual Review on my blog here; in-a-nutshell excerpt below.

"...if you want a novella with actual action other than dialogue (and smoking. There's lots of smoking.) and believable characters who aren't authorial self-insertions or thinly-veiled Christ figures, skip this book. But if you're into some thoroughly decent theological insights wrapped in a Salinger story that reads like a particularly smoky Wes Anderson film, step right up. Read this book!" ( )
  pepperedmoth | Mar 7, 2015 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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