47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Salinger at His Finest,
This review is from: Franny and Zooey (Mass Market Paperback)
Many Salinger fans, upon reading Franny and Zooey, are quick to draw comparisons to Catcher In the Rye. That was exactly what I did the first time I read this novel nearly twenty five years ago; but after several years of lauding Franny and Zooey as the pinochle of Salinger's work, it dawned on me that while there are angry or confused youngsters who feel like societal misfits in each novel, they come from such different worlds that comparing the two stories is just, well... apples & oranges.
What made Franny and Zooey more endearing to me was the family dynamics. In contrast to Catcher in the Rye's focus on Holden Caulfield's unhappiness as an individual, the nervous breakdown that Franny Glass suffers early in the story has more to do with being a member of the Glass Family than it does her individual anxieties. And unlike Holden, who is coping in the larger world, Franny suffers as a shut-in at the home she grew up in.
I believe that most people who have dealt with well meaning but misguided families will find themselves drawn toward this story. The Glass Family is one of the finest examples of a large and dysfunctional family (before it was cool to be dysfunctional), with an emotionally charged but diverse collection of grown children dealing with the complexeties of their upbringing.
The story focuses equally on Franny and her older brother Zooey. They are two youngest children in the Glass Family, raised by their parents and older siblings on vaudeville style entertainment, philosophy and intelligentsia. While Franny's breakdown seems a mystery to her and paralyzes her emotions, Zooey is pent up with anger and well too aware of the emotional wreckage their upbringing has left the Glass offspring to clean up. Feeling a bond with Franny as the two youngest children, Zooey wants to help his sister, but must first temper his rage and self destructive tendencies.
Going into much more detail would be an injustice to anyone who has yet to read this story. In my opinion, this is a classic story of twentieth century Americana. From Zooey's self loathing to the dialogue between him and his busy-body mother to Franny's aggravation with her boyfriend Lane, J.D. Salinger gives us a portrait of a family in crisis, unequaled until The Ramones recorded the dark comedic "We're a Happy Family" years later. And no, I'm not kidding! Gabba Gabba!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 30, 2012 9:53:56 PM PST
Walter J. Jamieson Jr. says:
The "pinochle" of Salinger's work, eh? Really?
Posted on Dec 4, 2012 10:14:38 AM PST
S. Gockeler says:
A fine review. Thank you.
Posted on Apr 5, 2013 10:30:54 AM PDT
Peter Baklava says:
Pinnacle, yes. You really should change that error. It mars an otherwise fine review.
Posted on Sep 13, 2013 12:13:55 PM PDT
Baja Sun says:
Having observed how very well written your review is - and having used the term "at the 'pinochle' of his success" - am I the only one of 4 who thinks you were just having a little fun with words?? The MSEE/friend who shared this banter with me also had a very warped sense of humor. Really enjoyed your take on the novel. Thanks!
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