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Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Very very early days in the year, but I will wager that two of my recently-read books will more than hold their own against others in line.

Visited the neighbourhood Crossword, chanced upon a few good ones , unflinchingly picked up Franny and Zooey and read right through. Uncomfortable beyond description and redemption—I always have maintained a near-supine recumbence while reading so doing so in a curled-up posture was unbecoming and physically arduous. This addled with the cacophony that usually prevails in this joint–the ubiquitous shrieked “ Hello, Pinky, am at Crosswords ( not true, that’s not the name !), what was the mystery book that you had mentioned –What, the Whimsy Code, no what the Vinci code, OK , Got it , the da Vinci Code , will get it for you “ routine, reading is not quite pleasurable but I perservere these days. So as mentioned, completed the book in one sitting.

Yes, the book itself was absorbing. Was rivetted to the tale most of the way. Only my second Salinger .( I remember that the first was in the mosquito-ridden confines of a poorly-lit, sultry and desiccating railway platform ) . A long time since I listened to a winsome lady purporting to be the author’s mistress on the Beeb. .

Told in two parts, each named after a sibling, intertwined by what could be considered common characters or at least common characteristics.
Was reliably informed that the two halves were separately written works for a magazine in the 1950’s and that makes sense, as there is but a tenuous narrative link between the two.

Franny is a precocious twenty year old with a nervous breakdown when she visits her rather affected and clichéd boyfriend, Lane Coutell. Character mannerisms, shards of thought that rear up to full-blown conversational palaver, sheer intellect of the lead and her utter incomprehensibility with her beau are conveyed with panache. In fact, I’d say a skilled piece of work in itself.
Her inability to suffer pedants gladly and her fervid urge to move away from the spiritually-impoverished and hypocritical were some facets that I could relate to..

The second half features Zooey, her brother and five years her senior, who is a chronic underachiever despite endowed with a perspicuous bent of mind that presents itself as scathing damnation of most things commonplace and banal. His conversation with his mother is marked with his inwardness, his ill-concealed derision and the distance between him and her. The Glass children, which Franny and Zooey are, among seven children were childhood radio artists which imbues them with an uncanny wit and tartness. The eldest brother, Seymour committed suicide and his emptiness pervades the rest of the clan..

The final part deals with Zooey’s faked tele-call with his sister, where he attemts to knock some sense into her, decrying her quest for a universally-problem-resolving Jesus Prayer as something that will yet not accord her that elusive peace and becalmed mind. He points out that her incantation is as conceited and self-engrossed as the blatant egotism against she is battling against.

Finally, fulsome content –East and West, illumination of some tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, a distinctly flippant approach to philosophy and understanding of some psyches made this book quite good.
Overall, an 8.5 on 10.

To top this, my sibling sent me some test on the book—I made 38 on 40 with one answer being contentious, that’s good all round except for poor Croosword—must take care I don’t venture out too soon again !!


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