“Oh, what’s the difference, Mother?” “Muriel, I want to know. Your father–” “All right, all right. He calls me Miss Spiritual Tramp of 1948.” the girl said, and giggled.
(A Perfect Day for Banana Fish)
“They wanna think you spent your whole life vomiting every time a boy came near you. I’m not kidding, either. Oh you can tell them stuff. But never honestly. I mean never honestly.”
(Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut)
“Where’d you meet her, then?” She asked. “Party,” he said. “At a party? When?” “I don’t know. Christmas, ’42.”
“Well I mean did you ever phone her up or anything? I mean didn’t you ever phone her up or anything?”
(Just Before the War with the Eskimos)
“You aren’t an admiral. You’re a lady,” Lionel said. His sentences usually had at least one break of faulty breath control, so that, often, his emphasized words, instead of rising, sank. Boo Boo not only listened to his voice, she seemed to watch it.
(Down at the Dinghy)
A few minutes later, when I stepped out of the Chief’s bus, the first thing I chanced to see was a piece of red tissue paper flapping in the wind against the base of a lamppost. It looked like someone’s poppy-petal mask.
(The Laughing Man)
I used a coat tree as delicately as possible, and then sat down at a table and ordered a tea and cinnamon toast. It was the first time all day that I’d spoken to anyone.
(For Esmé–with Love and Squalor)
“You know who I’m married to? You want to know who I’m married to? I’m married to the greatest living underdeveloped, undiscovered actress, novelist, psychoanalyst, and all-around unappreciated celebrity-genius in New York. You didn’t know that, didja? Christ, it’s so funny I could cut my throat. Madame Bovary at Columbia Extension School. Madame–”
(Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes)
I prayed for the city to be cleared of people, for the gift of being alone–a-l-o-n-e: which is the one New York prayer that rarely gets lost or delayed in channels, and in no time at all everything I touched turned to solid loneliness.
(De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period)
“After I go out this door, I may only exist in the minds of all my acquaintances,” he said. “I may be an orange peel.”
A man walks along the beach and unfortunately gets hit in the head by a cocoanut. His head unfortunately cracks open in two halves. Then his wife comes along the beach singing a song and see the 2 halves and recognizes them and picks them up. She gets very sad of course and cries heart breakingly.
This is exactly where I am tired of poetry. Supposing the lady just picks up the 2 halves and shouts into them very angrily “Stop that!”
Franny saw that he was irritated, and to what extent, but, for the moment, with equal parts of self-disapproval and malice, she felt like speaking her mind.
“You know, I’m the only one in this family who has no problems,” Zooey said. “And you know why? Because any time I’m feeling blue, or puzzled, what I do, I just invite a few people to come visit me in the bathroom, and – well, we iron things out, that’s all.”
“You either take to somebody or you don’t. If you do, then you do all the talking and nobody can even get a word in edgewise. If you don’t like somebody – which is most of the time – then you just sit around like death itself and let the person talk themself into a hole. I’ve seen you do it.”
Zooey turned full around to look at his mother. He turned around and looked at her, in this instance, in precisely the same way that, at one time or another, in one year or another, all his brothers and sisters (and especially his brothers) had turned around and looked at her. Not just with objective wonder at the rising of a truth, fragmentary or not, up through what often seemed to be an impenetrable mass of prejudices, clichés, and bromides. But with admiration, affection, and, not least, gratitude.
-Franny and Zooey