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Franny and Zooey: 12/20/07
Franny and Zooey made the perfect follow up to Better Than Running at Night. Both books center around young women struggling through a personal crises in the freshman year at college. Franny struggles more than Ellie in melding her personal convictions with her experiences in college.
In "Franny" (published in the New Yorker in 1955), Franny, a member of the Glass family (a family I will revisit when I read and review Nine Stories next year), is introduced as a cheerful and enthusiastic character through a letter that her boyfriend, Lane, carries in his pocket. It has been a while since they last saw each other and the woman who steps of the train is nothing like her letter. She is withdrawn and nervous, a very changed person.
Over the course of a disastrous dinner date, Franny pours out her heart to Lane. She has become enamored with a book of eastern philosophy that she believes has the answers to all her problems. Franny's half of the story ends though before she can elaborate.
It isn't until the much longer Zooey chapter (or story, as originally published in The New Yorker in 1957) that greater details of Franny's problems are revealed. The bulk of her story comes out in a very funny but touching conversation between Zooey and his mother, Bessie Glass.
While the story is still about Franny's depression, Bessie ends up stealing the show. She is so perfectly written in all her quirks to be a fully realized person in these eight or so pages.
I'm very glad I read this book for the Jewish Literature Challenge.
The Glass family was so memorable for me.
Happy holidays! :)"