Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J D Salinger

This novella, one of a few such by this great writer that are loosely connected (others are Franny and Zooey and Seymour: an introduction; these characters figure in this story), does that wonderful thing of hinting at depths of meaning without explicitly setting them out for you. On the surface, this is a straightforward account of a young man’s attendance at his brother’s wedding and the fallout of a failed ceremony. But it is about so much more.

It is about the difference between family and other people; it is about the difference between clever people and stupid ones; it is about convention, and how it limits us; and it is about seeing the beauty in the absurd.

It is also very funny, especially in the description of the deaf and mute bride’s father’s uncle, who takes on a cypher-like role in the story, though a cypher for what, I am not sure.

It is also about celebrity, and its double -edged nature.

A brilliant book. This reading of the book was my second, and I was drawn to it by a conversation at a Christmas party with someone I had never met before. It just took off, as soon as we realised we both liked books. And she mentioned Salinger. It has been great to make his acquaintance again.


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