Friday, December 24, 2010

Excerpt: Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D Salinger


The Library of Julia Reston Roitfeld shot by Todd Selby From Here

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger

"For years, among the seven children in our one-bathroom family, it was our perhaps cloying but serviceable custom to leave messages for one another on the medicine-cabinet mirror, using a moist sliver of soap to write with. The general theme of our messages usually ran to excessively strong admonitions and, not infrequently, undisguised threats."

"When I'd checked into the bathroom with Seymour's diary under my arm, and had carefully secured the door behind me, I spotted a message almost immediately. It was not, however, in Seymour's handwriting but, unmistakably, in my sister Boo Boo's. With or without soap, her handwriting was always almost indecipherably minute and she had easily managed to post the following message on the mirror: "Raise high the roof beam, carpenters. Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man. Love, Irving Sapho, formerly under contract to Elysium Studios Ltd. Please be happy happy happy with your beautiful Muriel. This is an order. I outrank everybody on this block" (p.76)

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter was originally published in the New Yorker in 1955. The New York Times ran a mostly pejorative review about the novella after it's release. The article led with "rarely if ever in literary history has a handful of stories aroused so much discussion, praise, denunciation, mystification, and interpretation."

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