Ahhh, Salinger

I use this quote teaching Creative Writing.  After reading this passage (or having a student read it) the students write a room, vividly and without cliche.  It’s pretty amazing what I get back.

Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger

“The Glasses’ living room was about as unready to have its walls repainted as a room can be.  Franny Glass lay asleep on the couch, with an afghan over her; the ‘wall to wall’ carpet had been neither taken up nor folded in at the border; and the furniture–seemingly, a small warehouse of it–was in its usual static-dynamic distribution.  The room was not impressively large, even by Manhattan apartment-house standards, but its accumulated furnishings might have lent a snug appearance to a banquet hall in Valhalla.  There was a Steinway grand piano (invariably kept open), three radios (a 1927 Freshman, a 1932 Stromber-Carlson, and a 1941 R.C.A.), a twenty-one-inch screen television set, four table-model phonographs (including a 1920 Victrola, with its speaker still mounted intact, topside), cigarette and magazine tables galore, a regulation-size ping-pong table (mercifully colapsed and stored behind the piano), four comfortable chairs, eight uncomfortable chairs, a twelve gallon tropical fish tank (filled to capacity, in every sense of the word, and illuminated by two forty watt bulbs), a love seat, the couch Franny was occupying, two empty bird cages, a cherrywood writing table, and an assortment of floor lamps, table lamps, and ‘bridge’ lamps that sprang up all over the congested inscape like Sumac.”

I tell them to list like he does, to “be” in the room.  It’s an awesome exercise for any writer, any time.

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