The J.D. Salinger hardcover box set, facsimiles of the original editions, is available at National Bookstores, Php3,995. Having worn out our ancient paperbacks, we figured it was time to get a proper set.
Reader qbeng is exasperated at the sparse turnout at Badil and Sonata, two Filipino films that deserve a wider audience. Some Filipinos actually take pride in the fact that they do not watch local movies, as if it were an indicator of their superior taste.
Immediately we thought of the long telephone conversation in J.D. Salinger’s Zooey.
Zooey’s youngest sister Franny, youngest of the genius Glass siblings (stars of the radio show, ‘It’s A Wise Child’), has had an emotional breakdown and is camping out in their parents’ living room with her cat, Bloomberg. Zooey telephones Franny, and in the voice of their brother Buddy (protagonist of Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters; he may also have written The Catcher in the Rye), gives her some advice from their late brother Seymour (A Perfect Day for Bananafish; Seymour; Hapworth 16, 1924).
“One other thing. And that’s all. I promise you. But the thing is, you raved and you bitched when you came home about the stupidity of audiences. The goddam ‘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. You know what I mean?”
“I remember about the fifth time I ever went on ‘Wise Child’…Anyway, I started bitching one night before the broadcast. Seymour’d told me to shine my shoes just as I was going out the door with Waker. I was furious. The studio audience were all morons, the announcer was a moron, the sponsors were morons, and I just damn well wasn’t going to shine my shoes for them, I told Seymour. I said they couldn’t see them anyway, where we sat. He said to shine them for the Fat Lady. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but he had a very Seymour look on his face, and so I did it. He never did tell me who the Fat Lady was, but I shined my shoes for the Fat Lady every time I ever went on the air again—all the years you and I were on the program together, if you remember. I don’t think I missed more than just a couple of times. This terribly clear, clear picture of the Fat Lady formed in my mind. I had her sitting on this porch all day, swatting flies, with her radio going full-blast from morning till night. I figured the heat was terrible, and she probably had cancer, and—I don’t know. Anyway, it seemed goddam clear why Seymour wanted me to shine my shoes when I went on the air. It made sense.”
Lola asked us if we had read Salinger, the biography by David Shields and Shane Salerno, who directed the upcoming documentary. We’re curious about the movie, but do we really need to hear—again—that J.D. Salinger was a weirdo? Do we need to have his work explained to us by people who are selling a product (a movie about the author), based in part on the accounts of people who stalked him?
If we really want to hear about it, why don’t we just read J.D. Salinger?
“When was writing ever your profession? It’s never been anything but your religion.”