Monday, February 15, 2010

J.D. Salinger

The recent death of J.D. Salinger encouraged me to return to his short list of published works. I remembered him primarily as that author whose work wasn't as bad as the rest of the stuff they made us read in school. Most of his published work consists of short stories published in the New Yorker, but his greatest fame is based on The Catcher in the Rye.
I picked up one of his 3 other books last week, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour an Introduction. I discovered that I had forgotten just what a great writer Salinger was. He had a killer sense of humor and wrote internal dialog that Eudora Welty would be proud to have written.
This book consists of two novellas, both concerning Seymour Glass. Many of Salinger's stories center on the Glass family and their extended history. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters is about Seymour's wedding day. Seymour, it seems, is just too happy to get married and doesn't make it to the ceremony. His brother, who tells the story, is left to deal with the new in-laws he has never met before. This wonderful character sketch puts you in the car with all that cigarette smoke and pretentiousness.
Salinger was notoriously reclusive and didn't publish much, but it is well worthwhile to read what is available.

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