RAISE HIGH THE ROOF BEAM, CARPENTERS AND SEYMOUR
These two long short stories have previously appeared in the New Yorker and both deal with the eldest child and most outstanding member of the remarkable Glass family -- Seymour Glass. Raise High...is an account of Seymour's wedding day in 1942, narrated by Buddy Glass. Seymour didn't show up atthe arranged ceremony (and never makes a direct appearance in the story, the action taking place between an embarrassed but loyal Buddy and some wedding guests on the bride's side) -but he later eloped with the anxious bride. Seymour An Introduction is a far more complicated matter (and reveals more of Salinger than many of his readers may like to know.) The central fact about Seymour Glass is that he committed suicide at the age of 31 while on vacation with his wife in Florida. To his six brothers and sisters, all of whom were prodigies themselves, Seymour is practically a Buddha. We learn here, again via Buddy, that he was, besides being an academician, a poet, influenced primarily by Oriental philosophy. Seymour's experiences, beginning at least when he was eight years old, are all essentially religious -- whether they take place in the barbershop, in Loew's 72nd St., or shooting marbles. Even his flaws seem perfect and religious. In fact, Seymour Glass is America's most consciously religious fictional character. How to justify his suicide? Some Salinger readers have now taken to raising other objections: the incestuousness and narcissism of the Glass family in general; the fact that Salinger doesn't love everybody, including his phoneys, (though one would think it the writer's privilege, if not obligation, to approve of his characters over some others); etc. etc. J.D. Salinger may be in a trap but, still, he has created real people, (there would be no discussion otherwise). For our part, devotedly, we read on.