I recently finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction by J. D. Salinger. Although both these books were published many years ago, I thought I should still give them a little review. Books, poems, and short stories that are older don’t necessarily mean they have anything to offer. This is how I’ve felt for a while when reading, and has helped me a lot to appreciate the good literature that is out there. I want to be a well rounded reader, and not just stick to contemporary works, or works that are overhyped.
Firstly, I read The Picture of Dorian Gray, and initially I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the novel. I previously read The Importance of Being Earnest in my first year of university, and I absolutely adored it. The Picture of Dorian Gray is not the same type of story. Dorian Gray is a much darker, psychological look into what makes someone human, and moral.
The novel begins with Dorian Gray having his portrait painted by his friend Basil, who he has a close friendship with. While his portrait is being completed Gray meets Lord Henry. Lord Henry tells him how beauty is the epitome of living, and that Gray could do anything he wants because he’s attractive. From there Gray’s life goes into a downward spiral of pleasure and eventually horror. Overall, the novel is dramatic, horrific, and makes you question morality in the people around you. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone wanting to start reading older fiction (as in prior to the 1900s).
In regard to Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction, I was a bit disappointed. I only say that because I’m a huge Salinger fan, and this collection of two short stories wasn’t up to par with his other works. Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters is a fantastic short story, whereas Seymour: An Introduction falls flat. The first story centres around Buddy Glass attending Seymour’s wedding, in which Seymour doesn’t show up. Once everyone leaves the ceremony, Buddy is stuck in a limo with the bride-to-be’s family, and discussion about Seymour begins. This story reads like all of Salinger’s other works. It was effortlessly funny, and the dialogue was so natural it felt real. After finishing this short story, I was excited for Seymour. Unfortunately, with this short story, it felt like an extremely long discussion about Seymour that wouldn’t end. Too be honest, it felt dry. I didn’t feel like the story had anything incredibly interesting to offer. There were times when I did like a few of the passages, but overall it was just alright.
I would still recommend Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction because of the first story. If that doesn’t peak your interest enough to buy it, definitely take it out from your local library and read that short story. It is worth it, especially if you’re a Salinger fan. The second short story may appeal to readers who are engulfed in the Glass family stories by Salinger, or anyone who really loves long descriptions.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – 5/5
Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction – 4/5