Thursday, January 23, 2020

the last book I ever read (J. D. Salinger's Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, excerpt four)

from Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J. D. Salinger:

If, any time between 1919 and 1948, you came into a crowded room where Seymour and I were present, there would possibly be only one way, but it would be foolproof, of knowing that he and I were brothers. That would be by the noses and chins. The chins, of course, I can breezily dismiss in a minute by saying we almost didn’t have any. Noses, however, we emphatically had, and they were close to being identical: two great, fleshy, drooping, trompe-like affairs that were different from every other nose in the family except, all too vividly, that of dear old Great Grandfather Zozo, whose own nose, ballooning out from an early daguerreotype, used to alarm me considerably as a small boy. (Come to think of it, Seymour, who never made, shall I say, anatomical jokes, once rather surprised me by wondering whether our noses—his, mine, Great Grandfather Zozo’s—posed the same bedtime dilemma that certain beards do, meaning did we sleep with them outside or inside the covers.) There’s a risk, though, of sounding too airy about this. I’d like to make it very clear—offensively so, if need be—that they were definitely not romantic Cyrano protuberances. (Which is a dangerous subject on all counts, I think, in this brave new psychoanalytical world, where almost everybody as a matter of course knows which came first, Cyrano’s nose or his wisecracks, and where there’s a widespread, international clinical hush for all the big-nosed chaps who are undeniably tongue-tied.) It hink the only difference worth mentioning in the general breadth, length, and contours of our two noses was that there was a very notable bend, I’m obliged to say, to the right, an extra lopsidedness, at the bridge of Seymour’s nose. Seymour always suspected that it made my nose patrician by comparison. The “bend” was acquired when someone in the family was rather dreamily making practice swings with a baseball bat in the hall of our old apartment on Riverside Drive. His nose was never set after the mishap.

Hurrah. The nose is over. I’m going to bed.

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