Sunday, February 16, 2014

reads #19: november 2013

jd salinger raise high the roof beam, carpenters and seymour an introduction book

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters/Seymour: An Introduction (J.D. Salinger, 1955)

I was a bit hesitant to pick this one up from my to-read stash. I had kept it for bleak days like a long-saved, fancy chocolate in a tin box. Bleak month, November was; so I treated myself to my last J.D. Salinger. Well, it isn't exactly the truth, there is the short story Hapworth 16 1924 floating somewhere on the interweb and revelations were made following the recent biography/biopic on Salinger that he had planned 5 publications to be scheduled between 2015 and 2020 (among which some new stories featuring the Glass family!).
I'm glad I read these two novellas last as I feel they hold the key to who Seymour Glass really was. He's always been depicted through his younger brother Buddy's eyes, and I feel that the latter had not been entirely straight with us, readers. It took a few pages of Seymour's diary to realise how fragile he actually was, and this lifted the veil of mystery surrounding his suicide and turned it into something 'real' for me. Buddy clearly put his brother on a pedestal and the traits of a jaded, unflinchable, zen figure were probably more his than Seymour's. He finally makes sense and he feels so tangible to me now that I feel physically unable to shine an unflattering light on him, but he had his flaws and Buddy refused to see them.
The first novella Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters follows Buddy as he goes to New York during a military leave to attend Seymour's wedding. But this one doesn't show up. Ensue awkward conversations with the bride's family members and friends. This is where Buddy will stumble upon Seymour's diary, possibly the most important moment in the Glass stories.
Second novella, Seymour: An Introduction, is Buddy attempting to write about Seymour and his loss. It is written in a stream of consciousness style, probably to reflect that Buddy is as honest as he can be, but it is not a genre I enjoy so some sections were more arduous than others. For me, the easiest, more enjoyable ones were about Seymour.

Other J.D. Salinger books I reviewed: Franny and Zooey Nine Stories

one day david nicholls book One Day (David Nicholls, 2009)

I was keeping this book for a beach kind of holiday, hoping for a fast-paced read to get me through lazy days. Well, the beach holiday never came but I was in dire need of an easy read after going through a classic and still struggling with Martin Amis' London Fields.
I think it is more of a summer book (as the book takes place every 15th of July between 1988 and 2007) but even though I picked it up in the midst of Winter, it filled its purpose nicely. Plus I was in that weird mood in the run up to Christmas of watching English romcoms (blame it on Love Actually) and I was eyeing up the film adaptation with Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway.
It is a bit of surprising book choice for me I guess but it was a spontaneous charity shop purchase spurred by the soon-to-be released adaptation and a vague recollection of Sandra Beijer writing about her being touched by the story (and I trust her).
I actually enjoyed this read. It is not mind-blowing but it is moving. The story follows the relationship of Dexter and Emma, starting with the very night of their university graduation, when life in all its possibilities vertiginously pans out before them. Then for the next 20 years, we meet them again every 15th of July. David Nicholls admirably used this storyline device without falling into the trap set by fastforwards and flashbacks, there were no clumsy catch-up paragraphs. Everything flows perfectly and it's a hard one to put down. 
It actually reminded me of Nick Hornby, it is full of pop culture and that sort of 90's-00's English sense of humour. It did linger in my mind for a while after I read the last page as it made me think of my own temporality and stuff like that.
I've read complaints online about the extra chapters after the story's actual resolution, that they were a bit pointless, but in my opinion they were what made the book. I thought that the parallel the author builds between Dexter's daughter and Emma was actually quite special. Also you get to witness the core of their special bond, which I thought gave more substance to this love story.
I enjoyed the movie for what it was too, the storyline device didn't work as well and the meaning conveyed in the extra chapters of the book didn't come as striking. But still, a nice romcom, alright!

**Special thanks to Magda for letting me play with her props & cats for the pictures.**

My goodreads profile.


Unknown said...

thanks for these reviews. it is really nice to see someone who so actively reads. i am really curious about salinger's other books now, and am going to take a look into them now!

rae of lovefromberlin

moira said...

@rae: hi rae! thanks for your comment! did you read the catcher in the rye?

Akshara Vivekananthan said...

Thank you for the reviews. I've only read The Catcher in the Rye, and that too a long time ago. I need to pick up on more of Salinger's other books. One Day was a fantastic movie, so I'm sure the book is even more fantastic. Adding it to my ever growing reading list!

Czułość Światła said...

I really enjoyed reading One Day :)

Julie said...

Oh! One Day, I actually have the exact same copy just a bit faded because I left it on my table for too long. I bought it before I saw the movie, and with every movie adaptation I see I always say "I'm going to read this first" - I guess that never happened because I saw the movie a few years ago and the book is still as new as I bought it. I think I'll start reading it soon. I really love Anne Hathaway.

Unknown said...

Oh gosh, I'm so glad to have found your blog- it is gorgeous!! xoxo

Niken said...

i haven't read any of J.D Salinger's books. maybe i should try one. i read lots of crime-fiction books since last year.

Helen said...

Hello lovely, thank you for the sweet comment on my blog, I really appreciate it! :)

I'm your newest follower and look forward to your next post - I loved reading One Day and glad I read it before I watched the movie, love the book but thought the movie was rubbish... It's always best to read the book! :)


Anonymous said...

How interesting! I would have never thought to read books like these but they sound great, I might have to look into it! Lovely blog btw. M.Mae.

moira said...

@Akshara Vivekananthan: if you enjoyed the catcher in the rye, you're definitely in for a treat with salinger's short stories :) it is a very quick read, perfect for a melancholic beach day ;) thanks for your visit! x

@(nie)ulotne: it is a very enjoyabe read! thanks for stopping by x

@Julie: i feel the movie is quite faithful to the book (although some people seem to disagree in the comments :) ) so i'd take a risk and say it's not essential to read the book in my own opinion. But if you loved the movie, definitely go for it, the book is an easy and quick read! x

@Lucy Aspray: thank you so much Lucy, glad to have found yours too!! x

@Niken: oh that's a genre i never delve into, any good recs? x

@Helen*: I agree with you, books > movies :) although i thought this adaptation was a fair one, what didn't you like about it?
thank you for the comment and your support! x

@Stephanie B: Thank you :) what kind of books you're usually into? x

Grace said...

ah! i'm still halfway through raise high but i'm really liking it so far. i can't wait to get to the introduction of seymour, i fell in love with franny & zooey and it would be amazing to know more about seymour!

petal and plume said...

your blog is exceptionally lovely

moira said...

@grace: i enjoyed raise high more than seymour: an introduction but only because i'm not really fond of the stream of consciousness style. Knowing more about seymour is what kept me going though! Please let me know what you thought of it if you come back around here x

@petal and plume: oh wow thank you, extremely kind of you to say that <3

Rachel said...

LOVE your blog! One Day was such a good book!


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