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  #31  
Old 09-30-2011, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by fugu13 View Post
A. This is wrong. They're presented as a pair of comrades (much as in the original). There are a small number of passages which might hint at them being a gay couple, and absolutely nothing making it clearly so. OSC has explicitly stated that he did not intend them to be gay.

B. At best there are a couple of maybe-subtly-hinted-at-being-gay characters, and no explicitly gay characters. There is a child molester, but if none of the child molester's victims are clearly gay, how does it do this?

C. OSC's position is certainly extremely ignorant. It isn't at all clear that position had much impact on the contents of the book. The case is built on the idea that there are characters in the book turned gay by molestation. That characters are gay is at best hinted at, and the author has said he intended all of the characters to be straight (which is a bit strange if this is intended to be an anti-gay screed, since he certainly has no issue with writing those, or writing anti-gay passages in fiction, which he's also done repeatedly).
Fair enough; having not read the book myself I guess I shouldn't have waded into the fray.
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  #32  
Old 09-30-2011, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Droewyn View Post
The Mercedes Lackey School of Heavy-Handed Social Commentary deserves special attention.
To be fair to conservative sci-fi authors, fantasy authors just tend to go crazy. Mercedes Lackey is kinda infamous at this point for insisting that there's some kind of grand stalker rapist conspiracy following her every move, and thus she needs lots of well-muscled, attractive young men paid to be around her 24 hours a day whenever she attends a con or anything where she might come in contact with fans.

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Anyway, David Eddings was great until he decided all he wanted to write about was little girls who were really grown women. Yeah, that is creepy.
Wait, David Eddings stopped writing the same mythic journey cycle bullshit story over and over again?
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  #33  
Old 09-30-2011, 02:01 PM
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I really liked the first 8 Ender books. Yeah, all of them. Then I found out the extent of his militant homophobia and I lost interest in reading anything else by him.

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So how about that George R. R. Martin? (he had to be mentioned)
No he didn't.
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  #34  
Old 09-30-2011, 02:03 PM
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I'm going with Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis. They are easy targets these days, but they once meant the world to me. It wasn't that they originally were good, but that their subsequent work was so bad that it revealed the books that got me hooked were really bad as well.

You know who had a rather epic meltdown when their favorite author went bad?
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  #35  
Old 09-30-2011, 02:30 PM
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I'm going with Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis. They are easy targets these days, but they once meant the world to me. It wasn't that they originally were good, but that their subsequent work was so bad that it revealed the books that got me hooked were really bad as well.

You know who had a rather epic meltdown when their favorite author went bad?
oh man Dizzy, that DFW review of Updike is about my favorite literary takedown ever.
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  #36  
Old 09-30-2011, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Updike fan's meltdown
I'm guessing that for the young educated adults of the 60s and 70s, for whom the ultimate horror was the hypocritical conformity and repression of their own parents' generation, Mr. Updike's evocation of the libidinous self appeared redemptive and even heroic. But the young educated adults of the 90s -- who were, of course, the children of the same impassioned infidelities and divorces Mr. Updike wrote about so beautifully -- got to watch all this brave new individualism and self-expression and sexual freedom deteriorate into the joyless and anomic self-indulgence of the Me Generation. Today's sub-40s have different horrors, prominent among which are anomie and solipsism and a peculiarly American loneliness: the prospect of dying without once having loved something more than yourself.
Is this the thing? Is this the next thing that's afflicting relatively well-to-do college graduates right now? Because I'd like to throw out just the bathwater for once, and not the baby again.
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  #37  
Old 09-30-2011, 02:35 PM
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Is this the thing? Is this the next thing that's afflicting relatively well-to-do college graduates right now? Because I'd like to throw out just the bathwater for once, and not the baby again.
Dubin, this David Foster Wallace review of Updike came out in the late 90s, I believe.
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  #38  
Old 09-30-2011, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Egarwaen View Post
Wait, David Eddings stopped writing the same mythic journey cycle bullshit story over and over again?
Actually, no!

I enjoyed the Garion and Sparhawk series (both of each), but his writing quality took a dive with "The Redemption of Althalus" and I couldn't get into the "Dreamers" series. Not sure I'd put him in this thread personally, though.
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  #39  
Old 09-30-2011, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by upupdowndown View Post
Dubin, this David Foster Wallace review of Updike came out in the late 90s, I believe.
I recognize that, but that one word "anomie" just leapt out at me since I get the general sense that the internet right now is still wondering what it means to be an adult.
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  #40  
Old 09-30-2011, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Dizzy View Post
I'm going with Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis. They are easy targets these days, but they once meant the world to me. It wasn't that they originally were good, but that their subsequent work was so bad that it revealed the books that got me hooked were really bad as well.

You know who had a rather epic meltdown when their favorite author went bad?
God Imperial Bedrooms was so bad, I still have hope Ellis can pull out of the tail spin. I'm resigned to the fact that Palaniuk is stuck in schtickville.

Funnily enough though that DFW article shares literary fellowship with the last thing Tom Wolfe wrote that I liked. (Can't find the essay online but it's called "My Three Stooges" and it's pretty fucking funny)
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  #41  
Old 09-30-2011, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Sarcasmorator View Post
I enjoyed the Garion and Sparhawk series (both of each), but his writing quality took a dive with "The Redemption of Althalus" and I couldn't get into the "Dreamers" series. Not sure I'd put him in this thread personally, though.
I remember enjoying the Belgariad, or at least the first couple books of it, skipping a bunch of his stuff, then trying Redemption of Althalus and groaning at yet another writer who seemed to believe that snark/snippiness and wit are the same thing.

Since there were fifteen years in between my reading those books, it's hard to say if he got worse, or I got pickier, in the meantime. I should pull out my old yellowed copies of the Belgariad and see.
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  #42  
Old 09-30-2011, 03:56 PM
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I assure you, he got worse.
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  #43  
Old 09-30-2011, 04:05 PM
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I assure you, he got worse.
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  #44  
Old 09-30-2011, 04:10 PM
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I assure you, he got worse.
The hero's journey stuff doesn't bother me so much and I really enjoyed the fact that Sparhawk and company were old dudes and often acted like it. Fucking Flute though, I hated Flute and it only got worse when she started talking...

and then they made a second set and it was all Flute all the time... and the Dreamer female char was just Flute but worse.
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  #45  
Old 09-30-2011, 04:15 PM
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I've always heard that the Belegriad was pretty good and it was the pointless sequel saga that sucked ass.

Was I misinformed?
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  #46  
Old 09-30-2011, 04:21 PM
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Nah. The Malloreon isn't as good as the Belgariad, but it's still good (and Eddings has the decency to lampshade the fact that it's kind of an artificial extension) — some of the fun for me comes from the new members of the group, some of which were on the other side before. The Belgarath the Sorcerer stand-alone book is a lot of fun (and was my introduction to his books). Polgara the Sorceress is not as good, but still enjoyable. Rivan Codex is skippable.

I like the Elenium and the Tamuli a great deal each, and the first series flows more smoothly into the second than the Belgariad and Malloreon.
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  #47  
Old 09-30-2011, 04:27 PM
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On Card, I find it kind of interesting to compare his works. I'm not sure he can be classified as some who "went bad", and not because of what small hints at his philosophies you can find in Ender's Game. I've read some of his other stuff, he doesn't bother to hide normally. But I still can read and enjoy the Shadow series and Ender in Exile and suchforth, even though they came out much, much later. I think he understands on a concious or subconcious level that the Ender series is popular and profitable in a way that none of his other writings are or ever will be. And so he intentionally restrains himself for those books to avoid alienating the larger reading population.

My author who's gone off for me would be Robin Hobb. I do love the Assassin's Apprentice series. Then the Liveship Traders set in the same world was alright. Then the returned to her first characters, and wrote another three books that were good. Then she abandoned all of that and wrote a new series in a new world . . . and what the hell is this? Maybe it was just a fluke, oh look she's going back to the Liveship series and . . . meh. I'm still hoping it's just a phase, but maybe that's just me being overly optimistic.
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  #48  
Old 09-30-2011, 04:50 PM
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Looking at the thread title, I just figured, "This is going to be about Orson Scott Card isn't it."

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That said, what I consider to be the biggest tragedy with Card is that somebody who once wrote flawed and nuanced characters now only writes the same series of caricatures, all of whom parrot his socio-political beliefs and deliver lines in Card's patented wise-ass manner. Reading his more recent books is exhausting because not everybody in the world thinks and talks this way.
Yeah, this right here is the thing. It's not that he used to be a totally great and awesome person who suddenly developed some crazy preachy ideas. He's always had those, and they always used to be present to some degree in what he wrote. That, in and of itself, is not a big deal.

The thing is, at some point it went from him having weird personal beliefs somewhat coloring whatever he wrote to him having characters rip their faces off mid-narrative, going completely against everything established about them, and just directly preaching at the reader.

The later Ender books were a bit off that way, but generally we had a bunch of newly introduced characters and adults we last saw when they were 12 year old kids with a lot of immediate problems, so whatever. Chalk it up to character growth or something.

The Bean books though? Dear gods. "I'm a coldly logical, generally emotionless pragmatic kid who has not and never will hit puberty, but even I realize IT IS THE DUTY OF EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING ON THE PLANET TO GET MARRIED TO SOMEONE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX AND RAISE A WHOLE BUNCH OF KIDS!"
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  #49  
Old 09-30-2011, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Falselogic View Post
Anyway, David Eddings was great until he decided all he wanted to write about was little girls who were really grown women. Yeah, that is creepy.
Eddings's problem was easy: At some point during the Tamuli he became so attached to his precious creations that he started refusing to put them into any situation that might threaten them even remotely. The Dreamers is especially bad about this -- it's all curbstomp victories and good guys sucking each other off (metaphorically speaking).

You can put up with Eddings's miscellaneous bullshit when the baddies are threatening and the dialogue is snappy. Not so much when the conclusion is even more foregone than usual and the good guys spend the whole series gushing about how great each other are.
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  #50  
Old 09-30-2011, 05:33 PM
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On Card, I find it kind of interesting to compare his works. I'm not sure he can be classified as some who "went bad", and not because of what small hints at his philosophies you can find in Ender's Game. I've read some of his other stuff, he doesn't bother to hide normally. But I still can read and enjoy the Shadow series and Ender in Exile and suchforth, even though they came out much, much later. I think he understands on a concious or subconcious level that the Ender series is popular and profitable in a way that none of his other writings are or ever will be. And so he intentionally restrains himself for those books to avoid alienating the larger reading population.
I think there's clearly a difference in Card's thinking, and you can see it most clearly in the Alvin Maker series. Look at the first book - which is a fantastic alt-history colonial fantasy - and then compare it to the other books in the series as they go along. The second book swaps out the villain for a clear Satan figure, and every book after that pushes the Mormon angle harder and harder until it wholly dominates the series.

Now, the difference might only be in how he feels compelled to express his thinking. He might have gone from simply believing these things to believing them and believing that they must be upheld and exemplified in everything he writes.

Though I can't believe we've gone this long without bringing up Frank Miller, the poster child of author mental breakdowns.
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  #51  
Old 09-30-2011, 05:43 PM
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The Alvin Maker stuff wasn't really an about-face. From the beginning it was a fantasy loosely based on the life of Joseph Smith. I agree that it started out strong, but by the end was hard to even read.
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  #52  
Old 09-30-2011, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Egarwaen View Post
Now, the difference might only be in how he feels compelled to express his thinking. He might have gone from simply believing these things to believing them and believing that they must be upheld and exemplified in everything he writes.
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The Alvin Maker stuff wasn't really an about-face. From the beginning it was a fantasy loosely based on the life of Joseph Smith. I agree that it started out strong, but by the end was hard to even read.
I can't argue that he hasn't pushed political agenda more with his writing in recent years (in explicitness, if nothing else), but I still think he scales it back for Ender.

When you consider that Ender in Exile (2008) was written directly between Empire (2006) and Hidden Empire (2009). Now I'll admit, I can be fairly oblivious at times, so EiE might have more subtext than I saw. But I couldn't even get through the dust jacket of Empire before putting it down in disgust.
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  #53  
Old 09-30-2011, 05:58 PM
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I was going to mention Mercedes Lackey in my other post, although I wasn't sure if she was all that good in the first place to qualify as someone who'd gone downhill. When I first got out of college, I loved her first Heralds trilogy. You've got the magically-endowed, sexually liberal wish fulfillment sub-society, and their telepathic white horse bond companions, and its being the first books like that I'd come across*, I gobbled the whole thing up start to finish.

Then I started on her first bard novel, which also had the sexually liberal sub-society, as well as its villains being a homogenously puritanical, unsympathetic group of priests out to quash the bards and their music (and their groovy, free-lovin' ways, presumably, though I don't specifically remember that). Even though I am not especially religious, this cheap straw man turned me off her books for good.

*that type of sub-society is still around in fantasy, even twenty years later. Bujold's Sharing Knife books have one. And I'm sure they existed well before Lackey showed up...
Her series have always been a bit touch and go. I'm very fond of her urban fantasy books, as well as the Elemental Masters series (fairy tales without actual fairies set in Victorian England). It's when she decides she must Make A Point About The World We Live In that she goes south fast.
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  #54  
Old 09-30-2011, 06:02 PM
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It isn't, it's showing Droewyn wasn't actually working from the book or OSC's opinions with what she was writing, but an incorrect set of assumptions.
I'll cop to that. I read an article about the story in question that indicated Hamlet's dad was molesting him. Or possibly I read it wrong. So shutting up on the subject now.

Also, fixed that for you.
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  #55  
Old 09-30-2011, 06:07 PM
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The Alvin Maker stuff wasn't really an about-face. From the beginning it was a fantasy loosely based on the life of Joseph Smith. I agree that it started out strong, but by the end was hard to even read.
I'd argue that there was a severe difference in subtlety. And while Card might've stated such, there's nothing in the first Alvin Maker book that can be used to argue that. A quick gander at wikipedia is all it takes to see that Alvin's early life and Joseph Smith's have nothing in common.

In fact, digging through Smith's biography, I think it's transparently obvious that the connection is something Card decided to graft on later, as there's not a single thread of similarity between the two.
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  #56  
Old 09-30-2011, 07:40 PM
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Wallace on Updike is nothing; Updike hitting Salinger so hard he probably stopped him from publishing any more is something.

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Dave Sim
I'm not sure Sim's craft degraded so much as his post mid-90s outspokenness highlighted the strangeness that was already extant in his work. He never stopped being a great comic artist, but his obsessions and solipsism have always kept him from doing great work (if that makes any sense.) His early stuff is held back by over-dense attempts at worldbuilding that go nowhere, badly dated industry in-jokes and nonsensical plotting; his later stuff blighted by his belief that he is The Last Real Man. In between the strangeness there's great stuff, but (with the possible exception of Jaka's story) you always had to pick it out from the flotsam. I have no trouble believing the man is in actuality a high-functioning schizophrenic as he once claimed.

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Wolfe trying to cop youngster lingo is pretty hilarious even if I sympathize with his views. Rules of Attraction had already covered the same ground with more confidence and panache.

Speaking of Ellis, it's amazing how bad Lunar Park sucked after that great opening. Drugs really do eat your creativity.
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  #57  
Old 09-30-2011, 07:43 PM
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Updike hitting Salinger so hard he probably stopped him from publishing any more is something.
Say what?
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  #58  
Old 09-30-2011, 07:59 PM
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here's the url to Updike's review of Frannie and Zooey, but it looks like it's behind a wall now:

https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/l...Q=Q5fQ72Q3dQ31

also here's a link to a relevant article by Janet Malcolm, because Janet Malcolm owns:

https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/l...Q=Q5fQ72Q3dQ31
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  #59  
Old 09-30-2011, 08:02 PM
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Yeah, both are behind walls. Summary? Did Updike just not like all the religious stuff in Franny and Zooey?
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:14 PM
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Hard to summarize, but he basically accused Salinger of devolving his fiction into spiritual tracts with the Glasses as instructive paragons/ciphers.

edit: hahaha, i forgot i'm already registered

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Anxious Days For The Glass Family
By JOHN UPDIKE
FRANNY AND ZOOEY
By J. D. Salinger.

Quite suddenly, as things go in the middle period of J. D. Salinger, his later, longer stories are descending from the clouds of old New Yorkers and assuming incarnations between hard covers. "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters," became available last year in "Stories from the New Yorker 1950-1960," and now "Franny" and "Zooey" have a book to themselves. These two stories--the first medium-short, the second novella- length--are contiguous in time, and have as their common subject Franny's spiritual crisis.

In the first story, she arrives by train from a Smith-like college to spend the week-end of the Yale game at what must be Princeton. She and her date, Lane Coutell, go to a restaurant where it develops that she is not only unenthusiastic but downright ill. She attempts to explain herself while her friend brags about a superbly obnoxious term paper and eats frogs' legs. Finally, she faints, and is last seen lying in the manager's office silently praying at the ceiling.

In the second story, Franny has returned to her home, a large apartment in the East Seventies. It is the Monday following her unhappy Saturday. Only Franny's mother, Bessie, and her youngest brother, Zooey, are home. While Franny lies sleeplessly on the living-room sofa, her mother communicates, in an interminably rendered conversation, her concern and affection to Zooey, who then, after an even longer conversation with Franny, manages to gather from the haunted atmosphere of the apartment the crucial word of consolation. Franny, "as if all of what little or much wisdom there is in the world were suddenly hers," smiles at the ceiling and falls asleep.

Few writers since Joyce would risk such a wealth of words upon events that are purely internal and deeds that are purely talk. We live in a world, however, where the decisive deed may invite the holocaust, and Salinger's conviction that our inner lives greatly matter peculiarly qualifies him to sing of an America where, for most of us, there seems little to do but to feel. Introversion, perhaps, has been forced upon history; an age of nuance, of ambiguous gestures and psychological jockeying on a national and private scale, is upon us, and Salinger's intense attention to gesture and intonation help make him, among his contemporaries, a uniquely relevant literary artist. As Hemingway sought the words for things in motion, Salinger seeks the words for things transmuted into human subjectivity. His fiction, in its rather grim bravado, its humor, its morbidity, its wry but persistent hopefulness, matches the shape and tint of present American life. It pays the price, however, of becoming dangerously convoluted and static. A sense of composition is not among Salinger's strengths, and even these two stories, so apparently complementary, distinctly jangle as components of one book.

The Franny of "Franny" and the Franny of "Zooey" are not the same person. The heroine of "Franny" is a pretty college girl passing through a plausible moment of disgust. She has discovered--one feels rather recently--a certain ugliness in the hungry human ego and a certain fatuity in her college environment. She is attempting to find her way out with the help of a religious book, "The Way of a Pilgrim," which was mentioned by a professor. She got the book out of the college library. Her family, glimpsed briefly in the P. S. of a letter she has written, appear to be standard upper-middle gentry. Their name is nowhere given as Glass; Franny never mentions any brothers. Her boy friend is crass and self-centered but not entirely unsympathetic; he clumsily does try to "get through" to Franny, with a love whose physical bias has become painfully inappropriate. Finally, there is a suggestion--perhaps inadvertent--that the girl may be pregnant.

The Franny of "Zooey," on the other hand, is Franny Glass, the youngest of the seven famous Glass children, all of whom have been in turn wondrously brilliant performers on a radio quiz program, "It's a Wise Child." Their parents, a distinctly unstandard combination of Jewish and Irish, are an old vaudeville team. From infancy on, Franny has been saturated by her two oldest brothers, Seymour and Buddy, in the religious wisdom of the East. "The Way of a Pilgrim," far from being newly encountered at college, comes from Seymour's desk, where it has been for years.

One wonders how a girl raised in a home where Buddhism and crisis theology were table talk could have postponed her own crisis so long and, when it came, be so disarmed by it. At any rate, there is no question of her being pregnant; the very idea seems a violation of the awesome Glass ethereality. Lane Coutell, who for all his faults was at least a considerable man in the first Franny's universe, is now just one of the remote millions coarse and foolish enough to be born outside the Glass family.

The more Salinger writes about them, the more the seven Glass children melt indistinguishably together in an impossible radiance of personal beauty and intelligence. Franny is described thus: "Her skin was lovely, and her features were delicate and most distinctive. Her eyes were very nearly the same quite astonishing shade of blue as Zooey's but were set farther apart, as a sister's eyes no doubt should be." Of Zooey, we are assured he has a "somewhat preposterous ability to quote, instantaneously and, usually verbatim, almost anything he had ever read, or even listened to, with genuine interest." The purpose of such sentences is surely not to particularize imaginary people but to instill in the reader a mood of blind worship, tinged with envy.

In "Hoist High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" (the first and best of the Glass pieces: a magic and hilarious prose-poem with an enchanting end effect of mysterious clarity), Seymour defines sentimentality as giving "to a thing more tenderness than God gives to it." This seems to me the nub of the trouble: Salinger loves the Glasses more than God loves them. He loves them too exclusively. Their invention has become a hermitage for him. He loves them to the detriment of artistic moderation. "Zooey" is just too long; there are too many cigarettes, too many goddams, too much verbal ado about not quite enough.

The author never rests from circling his creations, patting them fondly, slyly applauding. He robs the reader of the initiative upon which love must be given. Even in "Franny," which is, strictly, pre-Glass, the writer seems less an unimpassioned observer than a spying beau vindictively feasting upon every detail of poor Lane Coutell's gaucherie. Indeed, this impression of a second male being present is so strong that it amounts to a social shock when the author accompanies Franny into the ladies' room of the restaurant.

"Franny," nevertheless, takes place in what is recognizably our world; in "Zooey" we move into a dream world whose zealously animated details only emphasize an essential unreality. When Zooey says to Franny, "Yes, I have an ulcer, for Chrissake. This is Kaliyuga, buddy, the Iron Age," disbelief falls on the "buddy" as much as on "Kaliyuga," and the explanatory "the Iron Age" clinches our suspicion that a lecturer has usurped the writing stand. Not the least dismaying development of the Glass stories is the vehement editorializing on the obvious--television scripts are not generally good, not all section men are geniuses. Of course, the Glasses condemn the world only to condescend to it, to forgive it, in the end. Yet the pettishness of the condemnation diminishes the gallantry of the condescension.

Perhaps these are hard words; they are made hard to write by the extravagant self- consciousness of Salinger's later prose, wherein most of the objections one might raise are already raised. On the flap of this book jacket, he confesses, "There is a real-enough danger, I suppose, that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful." Let me say, I am glad he is hopeful. I am one of those--to do some confessing of my own-- for whom Salinger's work dawned as something of a revelation. I expect that further revelations are to come.

The Glass saga, as he has sketched it out, potentially contains great fiction. When all reservations have been entered, in the correctly unctuous and apprehensive tone, about the direction he has taken, it remains to acknowledge that it is a direction, and that the refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.

Mr. Updike is a writer of fiction. His titles include "The Poorhouse Fair" and "Rabbit, Run."
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