March 13, 2008

"It's Christ Himself, Buddy. It's Christ Himself."

I never finished Catcher in the Rye, though I started it at least twice. And I never finished Nine Stories, either: I panicked after the bananafish. It was a tender age for me. But I could read Franny and Zooey and Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters; and Seymour: An Introduction all day long.

As a matter of fact, I just did. At least, I re-read Franny and Zooey over the past week—first just snippets here and there, and finally the whole thing, once more, in sequence. I can't believe that Salinger conceived the Glass family in such detail. I can't believe how true-to-life it is, in terms of chronicaling the lives of intellectual misfits. (Yes, yes: I realize there is some exaggeration here and there. There's a cartoonish element. But the essentials ring true.)

And I'm now concerned that I may not have anything left to live for: I'd forgotten that all of the action in the Zooey part of the book takes place as the Glass family's apartment in New York is being painted. But it was a transcendent experience to re-read it as my own house was covered in plastic and tarps. I went from room to room, trying to find a good spot to perch and finish the book, as Franny was reaching under the dropcloth for a cigarette and lighter. The same smell was in the air. (And, yeah: I realize this is beyond silly. I'm not an imbecile.)

Of course, the first time I read the book it was only because I thought "Zooey" was such an interesting name. I'd been up all night, and there was nothing in my room, so I raided the brick-and-board "bookcases" in the living room at our old house in Santa Monica. (Yes. The one my mother rents out now. That very place—the two-milllion-dollar teardown.)

In those days before marriages and day jobs and houses and equity and phones to be answered and calls to be made and blogs to be maintained, there was nothing more wonderful than to drink black tea in the morning and enjoy a good book as the light got bluer and bluer, sitting out in the chilly air on the porch, facing out toward 17th Street as the neighbors took their walks and went jogging and headed to work. I think the Goldfarbs walked by in their khaki London Fog raincoats to catch the Carlyle bus, and I nodded at them rather absently. They took morning classes at Santa Monica High School, so they tended to walk by my house and catch the bus around the time I was going to bed.

Now, looking at the book itself, I see that I re-bought it in 1982, and signed it with my maiden name. I didn't dog-ear the pages, though: just made notations on the 3 x 5-inch card inside as to which passages seemed most witty and insightful.

And now the pages are all yellowed, and I've finally dog-eared the leaves with wanton abandon, just drunk with the language and the imagery and the sheer literary ballsiness of this volume.

Like I said: nothing left to live for. Except, maybe, the day this house sells, and I'll have money again. Or the day I sell my first book. Or . . . well, there may be a few more cards I can play, after all.

. . . You raved and you bitched when you came home about the stupidity of audiences. The goddamn "unskilled laughter" coming from the fifth row. And that's right, that's right—God knows it's depressing. I'm not saying it isn't. But that's none of your business, really. That's none of your business, Franny. An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's. You have no right to think about those things, I swear to you. Not in any real sense, anyway.

And that is the thing to remember. Sweet dreams: another day of fixing up the house awaits in the morning.


Darrell: I am not hinting. Don't send me a new copy of F and Z. At least, don't do it until we're settled in the new place! We're considering a high-rise, with a pool. Which might just cheer me up about leaving the hills, you know. Also, there are, as I understand it, fewer rats in Glendale than there are out here in the wilds.

Posted by Attila Girl at March 13, 2008 11:41 PM | TrackBack
Comments

I don't do predictable. Predictably.

Then why did Frank Zappa partly record "Hot Rats" at Whitney Studios in Glendale? Or why does the Rat Patrol have these two offices? Hmmm?

La Canada Flintridge, CA 91012
Phone : (818) 545-8987

Rat Patrol
1640 W Mountain St
Glendale, CA 91201
Phone : (818) 545-8987

Posted by: Darrell at March 14, 2008 10:40 AM




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