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

4.1 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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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 60 customer reviews
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Format: Hardcover
"The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." -- Revelation 21:18-21 (NKJV)

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction certainly do remind me of the Revelation description of the New Jerusalem. It's like nothing you've ever seen before and will leave you with a sense of astonishment.

When thinking about how to develop a character, most authors rely on what the character does and says (as J.D. Salinger did in his first famous story about Seymour Glass, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish"). More sophisticated authors learn to include internal dialogue to expand the reader's view, as James Joyce did so well in Ulysses.

But a real person exists also through the perceptions of those whose lives are influenced by the person's existence. J.D. Salinger employs two extreme versions of such perspectives in these two longer stories that were first published in The New Yorker.

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters brings Buddy Glass (Seymour's slightly younger brother) to New York for Seymour's wedding day. Right away, there's a problem: Seymour isn't in sight. Buddy finds himself attached to a part of the wedding party that doesn't realize he's the missing groom's brother.
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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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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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