Lunchtime read: Franny and Zooey

Having read quite a few Salinger short stories someone posted a comment encouraging me to get hold of Franny and Zooey. The book finally turned up in the library so with press day out of the way and a little bit of calm in the office I have managed to do a spot of lunchtime reading getting through the Franny story that starts the book.

Highlights from Franny
Franny is spending the weekend with her boyfriend Lane and he is waiting expectantly at the station after receiving a letter from her saying how excited she is about the trip. He has a weekend planned around a meal, a game and then some cocktails and they head off for a meal in a restaurant. Lane starts by lecturing her on his latest theories and after a while Franny cuts in and contradicts him and then carries on in a confrontational mood. She is irritated by him and goes to the toilet and bursts into tears and clutches a book close to her chest.

Back at the table the odd conversation continues and Lane points out Franny is seating and she empties her bag trying to get Kleenex and the book pops out. Lane asks what it is about and she tells him it is about a Russian holy man that teaches people the special way to pray by saying “Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. The idea is that you say it in time with your heart beat but Lane is sceptical and critical and then after telling Franny that he loves her in a quite off-hand way she heads for the toilet, faints and is carried to the managers office. Lane is suddenly all chivalrous and goes off to call a cab leaving Franny recanting what must be the holy man’s prayer.

This is one of those stories where you start alongside Lane but as soon as Franny arrives you side with her. But as the story develops it becomes clear just how unhappy the woman is and how unsuitable Lane is. who seems to be unobservant, unable to listen and not willing to take criticism of a point of view. In just a few pages Salinger starts to allow a tight emotional coil to unspring leaving you wondering what might happen next.


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