Monday, March 01, 2010

There are few novels that have moved me and hit me with such immediacy as the first time I read Franny and Zooey. Deeper, more still reverberations of it's first shock and awe continue to be felt; it's still something I return to at regular intervals to take solace in how it explores both "otherness" and the self loathing that can attend earnest western spiritual exploration. I felt that it got pretty unfairly derided by its critics, precious as the Glass clan could be, they were also largely entirely misread. Their stories are closer to extended zen parables than anything realist, and the embedded meta narrative of letters are directly descended from something like Sterne's Tristram Shandy- these stories are not supposed to be Hemingway. They register postmodern devices pre-postmodernism; at their hearts they have earnest spiritual pursuit and American value critique as tenderly rendered and eviscerating as anything Fitzgerald wrote, but with a very different vernacular style. So, it was nice to find this great, vindicating review by Janet Malcolm recently, that said everything I'd been trying to sort in my head for some time. I read it and cried and missed the dear writer who made a home for all of us who are in this world, but are so far from being of it.