I’m an adoring fan of J.D. Salinger’s stories with the Glass family. They are filled with intricately quirky images about love and identity and how the two can conflict, especially in the young. They are my reminder that humans have an often unmet capacity to love. “Franny and Zooey” is my favorite, but as “Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters” is due back at the library next week, I’ve copied a few quotes that caught my attention before I return it. “Franny and Zooey” has more in common with “Raise High the Roof Beam” than the characters. It features haikus, seemingly nonsensical statements and ramblings (perhaps influenced by Zen), and the Hindu belief Vedanta, which holds that human nature is divine, and that the aim of human life is to realize that human nature is divine.

Here are some quotes to savor~

“There is evidently one rather terrible hallmark common to all persons who look for God, and apparently with enormous success, in the queerest imaginable places — e.g. in radio announcers, in newspapers, in taxicabs with crooked meters, literally everywhere. (My brother for the record had a distracting habit most of his adult life of investigating loaded ashtrays with his index finger, clearing all the cigarette ends to the sides — smiling from ear to ear as he did it — as if he expected to see Christ himself curled up cherubically in the middle, and he never looked disappointed.)”

“Seymour once said that all we do our wholes lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next.”

“A line exists in Kafka’s diaries — one of many of his, really — that could easily usher in the Chinese New Year: ‘The young girl who only because she was walking arm-in-arm with her sweetheart looked quietly around.'”

“I found out a good many years back about my general reader; that is to say, you, I’m afraid. You’re a great bird-lover….You’re someone who took up birds in the first place because they fired your imagination; they fascinated you because they seemed of all created beings the nearest to pure spirit — those little creatures with normal temperature of 125 degrees. ‘That goldcrest, with a stomach no bigger than a bean, flies across the North Sea!'”


“I was an egregiously charming, able fellow, and it was at once a marked and curiously unimportant reflection on anyone’s taste if he thought otherwise.”

“Even in the dark I could sense that she felt the usual estrangement from me when I don’t automatically love what she loves…I mentioned to her R.H. Blythe’s definition of sentimentality: that we are being sentimental when we give to a thing more tenderness than God gives to it… And she sat stirring her drink and feeling unclose to me. She worries over the way her love for me comes and goes, appears, and disappears. She doubts its reality simply because it isn’t steadily pleasurable.”

“S. was, in the usual tiresome terminology, an Attractive Ugly Man. (It’s a very suspect tag in any event, most commonly used by certain womanfolk, real or imaginary, to justify their perhaps too singular attraction to spectacularly sweet-wailing demons or, somewhat less categorically, badly brought up swans.)”

“Please accept from me this unpretentious bouquet of very early-blooming parentheses: (((()))).”

“I dread saying anything to you tonight, dear old Buddy, except the trite. Please follow your heart, win or lose….Keep me up until five only because all of your stars are out, and for no other reason…Were you busy writing your heart out?”


me, somewhere along the california coast