Saturday, January 25, 2020

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

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

I’m thinking about this last paragraph. That is, about the amount of personal admiration that has gone into it. To what extent, I wonder, may one be allowed to admire one’s brother’s hands without raising a few modern eyebrows? In my youth, Father William, my heterosexuality (discounting a few, shall I say, not always quite voluntary slow periods) was often rather common gossip in some of my old Study Groups. Yet I now find myself recalling, perhaps just a wee bit too vividly, that Sofya Tolstoy, in one of her, I don’t doubt, well-provoked marital piques, accused the father of her thirteen children, the elderly man who continued to inconvenience her every night of her married life, of homosexual leanings. I think, on the whole, Sofya Tolstoy was a remarkably unbrilliant woman—and my atoms, moreover, are arranged to make me constitutionally inclined to believe that where there’s smoke there’s usually strawberry Jello, seldom fire—but I do very emphatically believe there is an enormous amount of the androgynous in any all-or-nothing prose writer, or even a would-be one. I think that if he titters at male writers who wear invisible skirts he does so at his eternal peril. I’ll say no more on the subject. This is precisely the sort of confidence that can be easily and juicily Abused. It’s a wonder we’re not worse cowards in print than we already are.

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