Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour an Introduction by J. D. Salinger is the second book I’ve read from my Summer Reading List.
It’s also the last of Salinger’s books that I had not read.
This book is actually two Novellas published together. The first, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, is an account of Seymour Glass’s wedding day – told by his brother Buddy Glass. Seymour Glass himself never actually makes an appearance in the story. It’s an excellent story, and made me love Salinger’s writing even more.
The second story however, is quite different. It’s an essay, pretty much, written by Buddy Glass. It attempts to be, just as the title says, an Introduction to Seymour Glass. At first it mainly focuses on Seymour’s poetry but then gets more general and talks about Buddy’s relationship with Seymour, and Seymour as a person.
I think Seymour an Introduction is possibly the best example of why I love Salinger so much, and how talented he is. I mean, goodness. Here’s a novella “written” by one of Salinger’s fictional characters, about another fictional character, and their fictional family. Nothing particularly sad happens. Seymour’s suicide is mentioned in almost every account of the Glass family, and is not the focus of this piece at all. It’s just a tribute to his “life” – who he was and what he was like. And the darn thing had me in tears while reading about Seymour and what sort of person he was. It was incredible.
I’ve now read his four published books, and I’ve read Catcher in the Rye twice. Now I’d like to go back and read them all again. If forced to choose a favorite, I’m not sure I could at this point. All I know is that it isn’t Catcher, though I do really like it. I love the other three so much I can’t imagine choosing a favorite. Maybe when I re-read them all it will help me make up my mind.
As much as I wish Salinger would release some new work, since it’s been nearly 50 years, I also am sort of ok with just the work that’s out there. I like the idea of re-reading his four books many times, and getting to know them very well. I like the idea of trying to track down his uncollected works, as M—–l did. (A few will be on my complete New Yorker DVDs, so I’ll start with those.) He has definitely become one of my top five favorite authors.
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