Thursday, May 27, 2010

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour

Continuing my revisitation of J.D. Salinger, did I extract my Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour, an Introduction from the shelf.

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters unfolds in that brilliant way, revealing pieces bit by bit, including that marvelous title.

Seymour is exquisite and indulgent, a dream to read. For fans of the Glass family, and me reading these stories so close together, it, to borrow a phrase from The Dude, really ties the room together. Told from the perspective of Buddy, it's Buddy who tells us that he wrote many of the stories in Nine Stories, even those that don't have to do with the Glass family, like "Teddy". No less than a meditation on art and artist, "Buddy" writes some killer lines, like "When he was twenty-two, he had one special, not thin, sheaf of poems that looked very, very good to me, and I, who have never written a line longhand in my life without instantly visualizing it in eleven-point type, rather fractiously urged him to submit them for publication somewhere." and "You can't argue with someone who believes, or just passionately suspects, that the poet's function is not to write what he must write but rather, to write what he would write if his life depended on his taking responsibility for writing what he must in a style designed to shut out as few of his old librarians as humanly possible." Buddy bristles at the idea that Seymour's art is based on biography, that old saw that true art comes from the imagination - it's one I don't particularly believe in because I think it's generally used as a defense of art by men and a way to discard art by women, but I never get tired of the argument.

I'm waiting with baited breathe to hear if any more stories will be published. Rumor has it that he had piles of stories about the Glasses.


Anonymous said...

"bated breath", as in "abated".
"baited breath" means you've been ingesting earthworms.

Special K said...

Thank God for you, Anonymous!