"and nine parodies--the celebrated meeting between Amis's Jim Dixon and Snow's Lewis Eliot, a chapter from "Voluptia", the fifth volume in Durrell's "Alexandra Quartet", an entire novel from Muriel Spark, and a passage from Iris Murdoch's little known "The Sublime And The Ridiculous."Now that was all it said, and on my way back home I was idly browsing through the parodies for cheap laughs and idly wondering to myself that one on JDS would have been fun too--and, lo! there it was. Quite took my personal breath away. Innocuously titled "Fritz" with the intro that runs as follows:
"The prolonged silence of J.D. Salinger still raises an uneasy shiver or two in those forty-year-olds who, weary for a moment with the constant round of divorce and wife-swapping, hark back to their college days, when they had the Glass family saga to serve them as an ongoing testament of the path to ultimate truth. It's happy news, then, that the sequence is not quite ended, as the following item, culled of course from the New Yorker, shows." It's a first person account not of Fritz Pitz, amigos, "super in the Manhattan apartment block that housed the family of renown several times cited infra, and who passed in the neighbbourhood, under the name of Glass menagerie", no "primitive-chic virtuoso of the typewriter" who's"come round to the posture that silence in an incipient, unpublished writer is actually the really phony angle..I can be silent later".
Besides, he figures he has "existential responsibilities vis-a-vis all those ex-kids out there, greying with inflation who keep scanning the New Yorker for some message", but of the family whose younger members "would probably accuse me of writing scurrilous poppycock." He's a janitor alright, but has an M.Sc diploma but knows all about "the modern dilemma, and a cursory reading of Heidegger, Sartre and R.D. Laing has made even me, an ordinary guy, au fait with the realization that we dwell in an age of anxiety."
The language is an unholy hybrid of Holden-ish and Buddy-ish and there are some nice, nasty digs about guys glossing the subtleties of Spinoza to the millions at age eight, karma, nirvana and the sound of one hand clapping and other such, or it being the business of some to freak out with an Upanishad, or the travails and traumas of a decor guy:
"..coax a commission out of the Glasses, and they nearly had his business tottering. It was a fixed rate contract and it seems it took him weeks to get through their place. Three days it took, to get into one room, the haunt of a dame who fell into long-term bouts of sobbing the moment his brush was poised over the emulsion. Then, when he gets started, turns out that every wall in that place, from floor to ceiling and vice versa as well, is covered with photographs--and photographs of themselves; he has instructions to paint round them. Infact, then, if I had to sum up the entire ambience in a word, you know what word I'd say? Solipsism is the word I'd say, and no goddam mistake about it." In the end, ofcourse, the Glass characters had lost touch with their narrator after which Buddy quit writing and went into macrobiotic fennel business on a commercial scale. Franny got married to a Buick dealer and got a blue rinse.
..."Zooey stayed on at the apartment a while, calling up on telephone at one end of the place and then running to answer it at the other, but after a couple of months he took off too and, after a spell financing blue movies, opened a Zen Archery range for singles in Sarasota, Florida Seymour, being dead, has been harder to keep track of, but no doubt he's around somewhere. Life has calmed a lot, around this distinctly Manhattanesque locale, and the only worrying thing is the phone call. They come from some guy in New Hampshire or somewhere; and he seems to have been calling for, like, years, looking for the tribe."