Wednesday, April 21, 2010

rich kids have feelings too

when reading salinger i can't help thinking about wes anderson.

i thought i was so clever when i said to my best friend m: "you know? i think owen wilson and wes anderson must have been reading franny and zooey when they wrote the royal tenenbaums" only to find in a quick internet search that most people realise this.



franny and zooey is a collection of two short stories (one called franny, the other called zooey; the zooey bit much longer than the franny) and our two protagonists are part of the glass family. seymour glass, the eldest, is the subject of a perfect day for bananafish, one of salinger's most famous stories. the others appear in stories such as raise high the roof beam, down at the dingy and seymour: an introduction.

the glass family are a riot. upper east siders, childhood stars of a radio show called 'it's a wise child.' now adults and young adults they are smart, caustic, depressive, (often misanthropic) perfectionists. the two youngest siblings, franny and zooey, are suffering from having been practically brainwashed by their older siblings (primarily buddy and seymour) in all aspects of philosophy and religion, particularly eastern mysticism. franny has become obsessed with prayer, and specifically a christian pilgrim's "jesus prayer" which one is mean to pray constantly, every minute of the day with the aim that it soon becomes automatic. she's hardly eating, always thinking away, and it is causing problems with her boyfriend (though i thought he was something of a douche, really) but also with her family. her mother is worried and she enlists zooey to talk to franny about it. zooey is very handsome, but (and this cracks me up) "his face had been just barely saved from too-handsomeness, not to say gorgeousness, by virtue of one ear's protruding slightly more than the other." he is an actor who is sick and tired of other people's pretentiousness and excitement about their own work (be they screenwriters, playwrights or other actors). the siblings talk, they help and hinder each other, in an effort to understand one another.
i simply adore salinger's turn of phrase and intelligence, wit and the brilliant dialogue he gifts to his characters.
and so you can see why i can't totally separate the glass family and the tenenbaum family in my mind (and, curiously, and not unsurprisingly, the eldest glass daughter, boo boo, actually marries a mr tannenbaum). margo, chas and richie tenenbaum are equally disillusioned grown-up child prodigies.

4 comments:

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