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Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger
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“I'm a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“I have scars on my hands from touching certain people…Certain heads, certain colours and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“I privately say to you, old friend... please accept from me this unpretentious bouquet of early-blooming parentheses: (((()))).”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“I don't really deeply feel that anyone needs an airtight reason for quoting from the works of the writers he loves, but it's always nice, I'll grant you, if he has one.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Give me a story that just makes me unreasonably vigilant. Keep me up till five only because all your stars are out, and for no other reason.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“The connection was so bad, and I couldn’t talk at all during most of the call. How terrible it is when you say I love you and the person at the other end shouts back ‘What?”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Keep me up till five because all your stars are out, and for no other reason…Oh dare to do it Buddy! Trust your heart. You’re a deserving craftsman. It would never betray you. Good night. I’m feeling very much over-excited now, and a little dramatic, but I think I’d give almost anything on earth to see you writing a something, an anything, a poem, a tree, that was really and truly after your own heart.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Do you know what I was smiling at? You wrote down that you were a writer by profession. It sounded to me like the loveliest euphemism I had ever heard. When was writing ever your profession? It's never been anything but your religion.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“She worries over the way her love for me comes and goes, appears and disappears. She doubts its reality simply because it isn't as steadily pleasurable as a kitten. God knows it is sad. The human voice conspires to desecrate everything on earth.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“But guilt is guilt. It doesn't go away. It can't be nullified. It can't even be fully understood, I'm certain - it's roots run too deep into private and long-standing karma. About the only thing that saves my neck when I get to feeling this way is that guilt is an imperfect form of knowledge. Just because it isn't perfect doesn't mean that it can't be used. The hard thing to do is to put it to practical use, before it gets around to paralyzing you.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“If only you’d remember before ever you sit down to write that you’ve been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart’s choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself. I won’t even underline that. It’s too important to be underlined.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“I live alone (but catless, I'd like everybody to know)....”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“I have so much I want to tell you, and nowhere to begin.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“If or when I do start going to an analyst, I hope to God he has the foresight to let a dermatologist sit in on the consultation. A hand specialist. I have scars on my hands from touching certain people... Certain heads, certain colours and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me. Other things, too. Charlotte once ran away from me, outside the studio, and I grabbed her dress to stop her, to keep her near me. A yellow cotton dress I loved because it was too long for her. I still have a lemon-yellow mark on the palm of my right hand. Oh God, if I'm anything by a clincal name, I'm a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next. Is he ever wrong?”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Just go to bed, now. Quickly. Quickly and slowly.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“I’m not going to bed after all. Somebody around here hath murdered sleep. Good for him.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“John Keats / John Keats / John / Please put your scarf on.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“oh, this happiness is strong stuff. It's marvelously liberating.”
j.d. salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“If there is an amateur reader still left in the world—or anybody who just reads and runs—I ask him or her, with untellable affection and gratitude, to split the dedication of this book four ways with my wife and children.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“However contradictory the coroner's report — whether he pronounces Consumption or Loneliness or Suicide to be the cause of death — isn't it plain how the true artist-seer actually dies? I say that the true artist-seer, the heavenly fool who can and does produce beauty, is mainly dazzled to death by his own scruples, the blinding shapes and colors of his own sacred human conscience.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Franny has the measles, for one thing. Incidentally, did you hear her last week? She went on at beautiful length about how she used to fly all around the apartment when she was four and no one was home. The new announcer is worse than Grant - if possible, even worse than Sullivan in the old days. He said she surely dreamt that she was able to fly. The baby stood her ground like an angel. She said she knew she was able to fly because when she came down she always had dust on her fingers from touching the light bulbs.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction
“I have scars on my hand from touching certain people. Once, in the park, when Frannie was still in the carriage, I put my hand on the downy pate of her head and left it there too long. Another time, at Loew's Seventy-second Street, with Zooey during a spooky movie. He was about six or seven, and he went under the seat to avoid watching a scary scene. I put my hand on his head. Certain heads, certain colors and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me. Other things, too. Charlotte once ran away from me, outside the studio, and I grabbed her dress to stop her, to keep her near me. A yellow cotton dress I loved because it was too long for her. I still have a lemon-yellow mark on the palm of my right hand.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Zooey said... It would be very nice to come home and be in the wrong house. To eat dinner with the wrong people by mistake, sleep in the wrong bed by mistake, and kiss everybody good-bye in the morning thinking they were your own family.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Keep me up till five because all your stars are out, and for no other reason.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Yet a real artist, I've noticed, will survive anything. (Even praise, I happily suspect.)”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“We got passes, till midnight after the parade. I met Muriel at the Biltmore at seven. Two drinks, two drugstore tuna-fish sandwiches, then a movie she wanted to see, something with Greer Garson in it. I looked at her several times in the dark when Greer Garson’s son’s plane was missing in action. Her mouth was opened. Absorbed, worried. The identification with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer tragedy complete. I felt awe and happiness. How I love and need her undiscriminating heart. She looked over at me when the children in the picture brought in the kitten to show to their mother. M. loved the kitten and wanted me to love it. Even in the dark, I could sense that she felt the usual estrangement from me when I don’t automatically love what she loves. Later, when we were having a drink at the station, she asked me if I didn’t think that kitten was ‘rather nice.’ She doesn’t use the word ‘cute’ any more. When did I ever frighten her out of her normal vocabulary? Bore that I am, I mentioned R. H. Blyth’s definition of sentimentality: that we are being sentimental when we give to a thing more tenderness than God gives to it. I said (sententiously?) that God undoubtedly loves kittens, but not, in all probability, with Technicolor bootees on their paws. He leaves that creative touch to script writers. M. thought this over, seemed to agree with me, but the ‘knowledge’ wasn’t too very welcome. She sat stirring her drink and feeling unclose to me. She worries over the way her love for me comes and goes, appears and disappears. She doubts its reality simply because it isn’t as steadily pleasurable as a kitten. God knows it is sad. The human voice conspires to desecrate everything on earth.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“Zooey was in dreamy top form. The announcer had them off on the subject of housing developments, and the little Burke girl said she hated houses that all look alike-meaning a long row of identical 'development' houses. Zooey said they were 'nice.' He said it would be very nice to come home and be in the wrong house. To eat dinner with the wrong people by mistake, sleep in the wrong bed by mistake, and kiss everybody goodbye in the morning thinking they were your own family. He said he even wished everybody in the world looked exactly alike. He said you'd keep thinking everybody you met was your wife or your mother or father, and people would always be throwing their arms around each other wherever they went, and it would look 'very nice.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“I feel overwhelmingly grateful to them, but I don't know what to do with their invisible gifts.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
“When Seymour and I were five and three, Les and Bessie played on the same bill for a couple of weeks with Joe Jackson -- the redoubtable Joe Jackson of the nickel-plated trick bicycle that shone like something better than platinum to the very last row of the theater. A good many years later, not long after the outbreak of the Second World War, when Seymour and I had just recently moved into a small New York apartment of our own, our father -- Les, as he'll be called hereafter -- dropped in on us one evening on his way home from a pinochle game. He quite apparently had held very bad cards all afternoon. He came in, at any rate, rigidly predisposed to keep his overcoat on. He sat. He scowled at the furnishings. He turned my hand over to check for cigarette-tar stains on my fingers, then asked Seymour how many cigarettes he smoked a day. He thought he found a fly in his highball. At length, when the conversation -- in my view, at least -- was going straight to hell, he got up abruptly and went over to look at a photograph of himself and Bessie that had been newly tacked up on the wall. He glowered at it for a full minute, or more, then turned around, with a brusqueness no one in the family would have found unusual, and asked Seymour if he remembered the time Joe Jackson had given him, Seymour, a ride on the handle bars of his bicycle, all over the stage, around and around. Seymour, sitting in an old corduroy armchair across the room, a cigarette going, wearing a blue shirt, gray slacks, moccasins with the counters broken down, a shaving cut on the side of his face that I could see, replied gravely and at once, and in the special way he always answered questions from Les -- as if they were the questions, above all others, he preferred to be asked in his life. He said he wasn't sure he had ever got off Joe Jackson's beautiful bicycle.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

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