Franny and Zooey is an all-talk novel

If you like listening to strangers on cell phones in the plumbing department, Franny and Zooey is the novel for you.

Franny and Zooey are the youngest of the five Glass children who between 1927 and 1943 had astounded listeners to “It’s a Wise Child” with their encyclopedic knowledge.

The two eldest Glass children, Seymour and Buddy, were adults when youngest learned to read. They didn’t want Franny and Zooey grow up full of facts with no wisdom, so they tutored them in metaphysics.

In college, Franny has taken up saying “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” continuously. Her family thinks she’s having a nervous breakdown.

Zooey sets Franny straight, making her see that religion is doing superbly that for which she has talent: acting.

J. D. Salinger makes the novel more complicated by having Franny try to explain her religious experience to the intellectual snob she’s dating and having Zooey discuss Franny’s strange behavior with his mother at length in the bathroom.

There’s no plot to speak of. The characters are not the sort of folks you’d want to spend an evening with, in or out of the bathroom.

These kids might have been wise as children, but they outgrew it.

Franny and Zooey
By J. D. Salinger
Little, Brown 1961
201 pages
1961 bestseller #2
My Grade: B

© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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