Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Excerpt: Franny & Zooey

The experience of re-reading JD Salinger post-highschool can be a little precious. The feeling's akin to being trapped indefinitely on a Wes Anderson set. Everything is just so. And it can start to drive the reader a little mental. From the pea green book that Franny carries to the way that Fatty, as Zooey calls his mother, arranges towels in the famous bathroom scene, Salinger treats his characters almost as if he's giving them stage directions. But the end result is that you leave the book feeling like you've watched an entire movie play out in your head. The visuals are stunning.

Here's Lane meeting Franny at the train station for the first time. Let's remember she's wearing a racoon fur. (JD really nails the fashion sense on his women protagonists). Her malaise is so perfectly Margot Tennenbaum.

"This all the bags you brought? What's the book?" [this is Lane, her teacher's pet boyfriend]
Franny looked down at her left hand. She had a small pea-green cloth-bound book in it. "This? Oh, just some thing." She said. She opened her handbag and stuffed the book into it, and followed Lane down the long platform toward the taxi stand. She put her arm through his, and did most of the talking, if not all of it. There was something, first, about a dress in her bag that had to be ironed. She said she'd bought a really darling little iron that looked like it went with a doll house" p.8

Later at the coffee shop with Lane:

"You haven't touched your god damn sanwich," Lane said suddenly. [Lane, not such a keeper fyi] "You know that?"
Franny looked down at her plate as if it had just been placed before her. " I will in a minute," She said. She sat still for a moment, holding her cigarette, but without dragging on it, in her left hand, and with her right hand fixed tensely around the base of her glass of milk." p36

And then there's, of course, the description of the Glass house p199.

"The Glasses' living room was about as unready to have its walls repainted as a room can be. Franny Glass lay asleep on the couch, with an afghan over her; the "wall-to-wall" carpet had been neither taken up nor folded in at the borders; and the furniture- seemingly, a small warehouse of it-was in its usual static-dyanmic distribution. The room was not impressively large, even by Manhattan apartment-house standards, but its accumulated furnishings might have lent a snug appearance to a banquet hall in Valhalla. There was a Steinway grand piano (invariably kept open), three radios (a 1927 Freshman, a 1932 Stromberg-Carlson and a 1941 RCA), a twenty-one-inch-screen television set, four table-model phonographs (including a 1920 Victrola, with its speaker still mounted in tact, top side), cigarette and magazine tables galore, a regulation size ping-pong table (mercifully collapsed behind the piano), four comfortable chairs, eight uncomfortable chairs, a twelve gallon tropical-fish tank (filled to capacity, in every sense of the word, and illuminated by two forty watt bulbs) a love seat, the couch Franny was occupying, two empty bird cages, a cherry wood writing table, and an assortment of floor lamps, table lamps, and "bridge" lamps that sprang up all over the congested inscape like sumac. A cordon of waist-high bookcases lined three walls, their shelves cram-jammed and literally sagging with books-Children's book, textbooks, second-hand books, Book Club books, plus an even more heerogeneous over-flow from less communal "annexes" of the apartment."

Haha. Anyone? This could literally be my house. I love this visual. It's so perfectly encapsulates what the havoc of living with a big family is like. The former hobbies and acquisitive phases of every sibling eventually becomes part of the floor plan. Also, there's that amazing bit of comparing the contents of the room to being more suited to Valhalla (Odin's living room anyone?) than to an Upper West Side apartment.

No comments:

Post a Comment