Saturday, 20 December 2014

Review: Franny by J.D. Salinger

Franny is J.D. Salinger's short story about a young woman seeking spiritual enlightenment that is usually published alongside Salinger's novella Zooey in a single volume titled Franny and Zooey. I decided to re-read Franny recently (not a huge task, as the story is approximately twenty-eight pages long,) after discovering that originally, it was published as a short story, a whole two years before Salinger published Zooey. I wanted to get a real sense of this one without it being eclipsed by the longer (and arguably more interesting,) Zooey.

Franny feels both very old and dated, yet oddly relevant to the modern world. Franny is suffering from a crisis of self. Although coming from a relatively privileged background, she is seeking deeper truths. Or, it is entirely possible, she is simply having a mental breakdown. In any case, she is questioning everything about her existence and the world around her, she is feeling ill and the whole experience is more or less ruining the lunch that she is meant to be enjoying with her equally privileged boyfriend. 

Similar to Catcher in the Rye, in one sense, Franny is a book about first world problems and the desire to find enlightenment. I won't pretend that I loved this one, because, in all honesty, I didn't. It's an interesting, and realistic, enough account of someone who is going through a crisis of self--Franny holds the world around her in contempt and seems to be using religion and enlightenment as a crutch--but I found that I that I had no strong feelings about the character or her situation. She came across to me as yet another self-centred young adult who thinks that they, and they alone, are the first to question the world around them. However, I feel that what really bothered me was that there is nothing, or no one, that really counters the character and her experiences. On the other hand, this weakness does make it the perfect lead in to Zooey, which continues the story of Franny's breakdown through the eyes of her brother.