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Raise High the Roof beam, Carpenters And Seymour: An Introduction Turtleback – Aug 2003


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Turtleback, Aug 2003

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Product Details

  • Turtleback: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Demco Media (August 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0606288384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0606288385
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 11.4 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
For some reason, probably because I'm an idiot, I read this after reading Franny and Zooey. I had already read everyone else Salinger wrote and decided to finish off his career. His nine stories are much better, especially when compared to this. Compared to this, a kick in the crotch seems nice.
Like Franny and Zooey, these two stories are about the Glass Family, which is made up of very intelligent siblings that used to be on a radio quiz show. Salinger's style here is not simplistic and lucid like in Catcher in the Rye, but instead is pretentious and convoluted. It's as though he took everything about Catcher in the Rye that was good and did the opposite. The narrative is extreme stream of conscious, almost at the level of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury.
I don't remember what the premise of the story is because it was barely there. I know it has something to do with Seymour's marriage, but the stories are more about the characters than their setting. However, since the writing is so unpleasant this makes it very difficult to read. I don't recommend this book to anyone and thinking about it makes me feel bad inside in a way I imagine one would feel after doing something terrible, like killing a man or breaking a prized possession. The reason for the latter maybe because the time spent reading this book was wasted. I gained nothing from the experience except a hatred for these characters who, if they ever make the mistake of physically manifesting themselves in my presence, I will beat with such fervency that they will be sent into a coma from which they will never recover.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is actually a melding of two stories which delve deeper into the history of the Glass family, who was introduced earlier in Salinger's works.
"Raise High" followed the adventures of Buddy as he prepared to attend the wedding of his brother, Seymour. However, Seymour fails to show up at the wedding, and the rest of the story continues as Buddy converses and invites the family and friends of the bride over to his house to escape from the hot day. Although this was a good story that brought other things to light about the Glass family, it was no way comparable to "Franny and Zooey" or the short story that first introduced us to Seymour, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish".
"Seymour: An Introduction" is a paradoxical title for the next story, because as mentioned in the previous paragraph, the reader has already become fairly familiar with the character of Seymour. The reader follows Buddy's mind as he describes his elder brother whom he deeply admires, but it almost feels like you're stuck in the mind of an ADHD. He jumps from topic to topic and the transitions are almost impossible to follow - I found my mind wandering quite a bit with this one. If I hadn't already had an interest in the Glass family, I probably would not have finished this story. It was long-winded and not very thematic. It does, however, bring the reader closer to the Glass family and give insight into the background of the different characters presented.
It is also worthwhile to mention that one should definitely read Salinger's first two stories regarding the Glass family, "A Perfect Day For Bananafish" and "Franny and Zooey" in order to gain an interest in the family before embarking on "Raise High" and "Seymour". Without having gained a love for the characters first, it will be difficult to enjoy and understand these stories at all.
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By Chris Salzer on June 1 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After having read all of Salinger's currently available works (obviously many will be published upon his death) except for this one, I found it incumbent upon myself to finish the J.D. Salinger tour with this two story compilation that seemingly concludes (at least for now) the enthrallingly enigmatic, not to mention neurotic, Glass family.
While both are told via Buddy's first person narrator perspective, Raise High the Roof Beam is a far superior effort, although I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Seymour: An Introduction as well -- just not as immensely as its predecessor. After reading both, one seems to learn a great deal more about Buddy, Boo Boo, Les and Bessie, Walt, and Franny & Zooey than Seymour himself. Buddy admittedly refuses to delve into the years immediately prior to Seymour's suicide(deftly written in A Perfect Day for Bananafish), but rather touches solely on his youthful years while starring on "It's A Wise Child." This book is worth the price alone due to the profound Taoist tale Seymour told Franny when she was a baby -- as well as Buddy's hilarious blowup at the insufferably annoying Matron of Honor.
"My atoms, moreover, are arranged to make me constitutionally inclined to believe that where there's smoke there's usually strawberry Jello, seldom fire." - Buddy
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the last of Salinger's books that I've read. I certainly liked it better than "9 Stories," which I just really, really couldn't get into, but it doesn't measure up to "Catcher in the Rye" and especially "Franny and Zooey."
Any shortcomings the book has rests with the "Seymour: An Introduction" half. This chapter takes forever to start, thanks to Buddy Glass' metafictional ponderings. These are somewhat interesting, but ultimately only weigh down what is already a story that's all characterization with no action.
Don't get me wrong: I like "Seymour," particularly once the narrator moves past his delight with his own intelligence. There just seems to be an awful lot of wasted words in that section.
"Raise High the Roof-Beam, Carpenters" is a much more straightforward story, instantly enjoyable and along the lines of "Franny."
Both stories contribute to the reader's understanding of the magnificent Glass family, and, in particular, the life and eventual death of Seymour. I still don't fully understand why he did what he did, though. That may be my problem, not Salinger's.
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