Franny and Zooey is a collection of two short stories that originally appeared in The New Yorker in the 50s. In them, Salinger focuses again on two members of his beloved Glass family–Franny and her older brother Zooey–as they grapple with the Jesus prayer, egotism, and broken relationships.
The subject matter is heavy but Salinger keeps it moving with the quippy dialogue–which, whether or not it’s to your taste, is well-written and reminiscent of Hemingway at his best.
Franny and Zooey was hugely popular among the youthful angsty elite in the 50s and early 60s, but the critics thought it was pretty terrible, and it’s been overshadowed by Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye for the past few decades. But this slim novel has not quite been forgotten–some modern critics even argue it’s Salinger’s best.
It’s popped up in a few surprising places in the past few years.
He was never spotted reading Franny and Zooey, but he was searching for the book (or at least that’s what he told Lorelai) in the season two episode Lost and Found:
LORELAI: Did you get lost?
JESS: No, I was looking at Rory’s books.
LORELAI: Uh huh.
JESS: I wanted to see if she had Franny and Zooey. She does.
JESS: I was gonna get it for her if she didn’t.
I’m wondering if sales of Franny and Zooey will bounce–or maybe just increased library checkouts–after Lauren Graham named her title character Franny in her debut novel Someday, Someday, Maybe, and wound Salinger’s story into the plot of the book. Graham’s said in interviews that Franny and Zooey made a huge impact on her when she first read it.
If you moderately enjoyed (or at least didn’t hate) The Catcher in the Rye, it may be worth giving Salinger’s lesser-known cult favorite a try. After all, it’s Rory Gilmore-approved.
Have you read Franny and Zooey? (Or more a more fun conversation, tell us whose taste in books you trust the most: Jess’s, Rory’s, or Lauren Graham’s.)
***** ***** *****
This is the ninth post in a series, 31 Days of Cult Classics. You can click here to see a list of all the posts, updated everyday in the month of October.