I love this book! I think it's my favorite Salinger novel.
Seymour Glass was sort of an early guru of mine for a while. I remember his poem "John Keats, John Keats, John / Please put your scarf on." I can't remember if that was quoted here or in Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters.
There are more things that have never left me about this book. Do you remember the tangerine? It was a gift from her uncle or someone, I forget who, trying to fix Frannie's anguish with it. I just loved that. For me metaphorical tangerines are indeed precious gifts, like when my cat always seems to know when I'm sad and come to comfort me. For me they're effective salves for a grieving soul, those tangerines. Of course it's not the gift itself that does the magic but the feeling that prompts it; the empathy, the sympathetic sorrow, and the wish to do something even when there's clearly nothing that can be done.
Since I've read this book all those many times long ago, I've grown up and healed my own tortured soul, but now it's my son who's in Frannie's place, and all my tangerines are to no avail. =( How does one learn to see a tangerine for what it is and be glad of it? I don't know how to show how.
Another thing wonderful about this story is that their mom suggested that the real problem was likely improper diet; all the cheeseburgers Frannie had been eating at college. Zooey makes fun of that idea, but what's really great is that during the course of solving my own life-anguish, I came to realize that it's due (the sort of paralyzing depression that makes it impossible to get out of bed or bathe) more than anything else to bad diet, bad sleeping habits, no exercise, not enough sunshine, and physical simple things like that. It gets assigned to life trauma, to the problem of pain, the problem of evil, and other philosophical ideas, but what fixes it is those 4 pillars: sunshine, exercise, diet, sleep. I look back and think how funny it is that the fat Irish rose mother was actually speaking sound wisdom with her imprecations against cheeseburgers, but of course nobody listened. =)
Maybe I'll give my son this book as a tangerine.