It’s been quite some time since I picked up my last Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, but even so his work is still as enthralling and unique as it always was. Raise High the Roof Beam and Seymour are two separate works which in some ways append each other. Raise High the Roof Beam is a tale of Seymour’s wedding, and Seymour is an elaboration on the man himself, told dutifully by his brother who is Salinger but goes by the name of Buddy Glass.
The two works themselves tell us not only a lot about Seymour, but also tell us about Salinger himself both as a child and as a forty-year old and self-professedly paunchy adult. It’s an interesting glimpse into his world, and although there’s not much to learn it does have a lot to say about the day-to-day struggles of life and handling a messy family. It speaks of reality, its ups and downs, and of fond memories recalled in middle age.
Its writing style is largely in the form of a recount. In my past reading of these kinds of novels, I’ve found the format to be clunky and sometimes hard to follow. As a reader, I was never drawn into the world of the book and I never had a chance to fully relate to the characters. It seems as if you’re watching another life through a telescope lens or perhaps a life lived inside of a snowglobe. You can never really picture it fully, you’re only given small parts. For me it’s not an ideal reading format, but that said its worth experiencing it once every so often just to keep your perspective on things.
One of the most interesting things I did gain from reading this was as exploration of Salinger’s time as a writer, and what he did to enhance his writing experience. This was garnered mostly from reading Seymour, and through interpreting what he wrote in a chronological order. As an autobiographical piece, Seymour does talk about the life of Salinger’s brother but in doing so he reveals some of his own habits. He writes as if writing a letter to the reader, in fits and spurts and when it pleases him most to do so. You see him avoid topics until he finally brings himself to put pen to paper, and then see the flash of words when he finally does. These periods often end in exhaustion, only to be carried on again the next day or in a few days’ time.
For me, as a writer, this was something I could relate to. Often when I do sit down and hash out a few pages or so it happens sporadically, there is no constant flow. But when the words flow, they flow, and I can only stop when I get to where I want to be. When I get it all out.
This book duo was a mixed bag for me. Though the content was good and had a distinctive American vibe to it much like Catcher in the Rye, I couldn’t relate to its content. That said, it’s an interesting foray into the mind of a writer and a good piece to read if you’re ever curious about Salinger’s personal life or his writing habits.
I know this one was short (the book was very short too), but never fear! I’ll be back soon with more reviews of Utopia by Thomas More, The Edge of the World by Kevin J Anderson, and two more Kindle reads. I’m currently reading my way through Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the behest of a friend who basically said ‘GO READ IT NOW’, so I’ll keep you updated on that.
Also, for those of you who have been following my progress on Pirates of Time on any of my social media sites (links are on the new page I put up under ‘Connect With Me’), things are progressing well if a little haphazardly thanks to a nasty case of writer’s block over the Christmas period.
That’s all for now, and never stop reading!