Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction

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Penguin Books, 2010 - Brothers - 134 pages
A haunting and deeply personal portrait of family tragedy from the much-loved author of The Catcher in the Rye
Buddy Glass is the second-eldest son in the eccentric and enchanting Glass family. He is on leave from the army during World War II, attending the wedding of his eldest brother, Seymour. But the wedding is not a happy one- it is overcast by a sense of strange suspense. Perhaps everyone is aware, on some level, of what is to come. And in the years after the tragedy, Buddy is haunted by memories of Seymour, turning over in his mind everything that came to pass with his deeply complex and unhappy older brother.
With painful tenderness and great subtlety, Salinger unfolds a story of family tragedy from the point of view of one character - Buddy - who has long been suspected to be a portrait of the author himself.
%%%First published in the New Yorker in the 1950s, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour- an Introductionare two novellas narrated by Buddy Glass, a character often said to be a portrait of Salinger himself. In the first, Buddy has taken leave from the army during World War II to attend the wedding of the eldest Glass brother, Seymour, and an atmosphere of portentous suspense sets the scene for the tragedy that will follow. In the second, Buddy reminisces about Seymour and the novella unfolds into a deep and far-reaching exploration of a complex and sad character which displays all the tenderness and subtlety which distinguish the best of Salinger's writing.

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With some of the bad reviews here I have to question if the reviewers even read the book. You can't understand the Glass family canon without reading these stories. Where much of Salinger's work appeals to the angsty younging- Catcher in the Rye the young adolescent and Zooey to the college student- these stories reflect a more mature piece of Salinger's work where the themes have moved from finding oneself in a seemingly phony world (for lack of a better word) to healing and inner beauty. Seymour: An Introduction is without a doubt Salinger's driest story, but at the risk of sounding pretentious I'll say that if you dislike these two stories and adore Franny and Zooey and Catcher in the Rye, that you've misunderstood where Salinger stands as a writer. Where the other two books were gimmicky this one in profound. It is certainly slower and enigmatic at times, but such is the nature of more mature literature. 

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About the author (2010)

Jerome David Salinger, born New York City, Jan. 1, 1919, established his reputation on the basis of a single novel, The Catcher in the Rye(1951), whose principal character, Holden Caulfield, epitomized the growing pains of a generation of high school and college students. The public attention that followed the success of the book led Salinger to move from New York to the remote hills of Cornish, N.H. Before that he had published only a few short stories; one of them, A Perfect Day for Bananafish, which appeared in The New Yorkerin 1949, introduced readers to Seymour Glass, a character who subsequently figured in Franny and Zooey(1961) and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter and Seymour- An Introduction(1963), Salinger's only other published books. Of his 35 published short stories, those which Salinger wishes to preserve are collected in Nine Stories(1953).

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