In Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, Zooey calls up Franny, his depressed sister who returned home after running away from her college life, from another room in their apartment pretending to be their older brother Buddy. Soon Franny finds out it is Zooey who is on the other side of the line, but strangely, the presence of Buddy lingers in Zooey’s voice.
I read this novel when I was in my early twenties. I was still living in America. As I read the novel, I imagined the young Zooey on the telephone. I couldn’t picture the room he was in, so I borrowed the interiors of my parents’ room, which was the only place in the house with a telephone installed besides the hallway. He seemed to fit well in that room. I thought if I had someone like Zooey when I was living at home, who would call me and tease me, then my immature, sullen feelings might have been soothed.
My parents’ room was my favorite place in the house when I was teenager. It was brownish and dusty, and it was always cooler than the other rooms. Now, grown up, I returned home and sat on my parents’ bed with Franny and Zooey in my hands. The room was cool and dusty as I remembered. I followed Zooey’s lines, reading them out loud. In my parent’s room, on a small island in Okinawa, I was reading the narrative of America, the narrative of an American family who struggled through the social changes and a series of wars that affected their lives. My room had long been turned into a storage room. I was reading Franny and Zooey in my parents’ room to a boy who had once spend his days dreaming and feeling suffocated in what was now a storage room; the boy was always in need of someone to talk to. Reading the novel, I remembered that I loved what Zooey called “consecrated chicken soup” when I was a kid.