A painting of me

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters

   23 September 2005, the wee hours

Cover of my copy of Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters

If you asked me what my favourite movie or song was I probably couldn’t tell you. There isn’t any one movie or song that I can single out as being my absolute favourite of all time. When it comes to books on the other hand I can. My favourite book, the story I think everyone should read, is Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, by J. D. Salinger.

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters takes place one hot afternoon in New York city. The story is all about a wedding, and in particular the absent groom who happens to be the narrator’s brother. It’s a simple story, much like all of Salinger’s others, but all the little details make it truly a joy to read. I was shocked to read it was received poorly when it came out in the 50s. It isn’t quite a love story, but it is very much about love. The ending is classic.

Salinger is most famous for writing Catcher in the Rye. I read that novel first during the early years of high school. In my last year, I ended up doing a ISU on Salinger (after picking and giving up on Charles Dickens). I ended up reading all his other stories published as novels: Nine Stories, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour, An Introduction, and Franny and Zooey. I’ve never felt more angry at someone I don’t know when I discovered that the four books I’ve mentioned are the sum total of the man’s published works. You can track down some of his other short stories printed in old magazines if you work hard enough—Tiffany found them in the Waterloo library for example. Nowadays you can also find them online, which is quite nice. Sometime in the late 60s Salinger stopped publishing. Sonuvabitch.

I reread Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters a few days back, which is why it is on my mind. I just finished reading Franny again, and am almost done with Zooey. If you are looking for some good books to read, I can’t recommend these stories enough.



  1. Upon your recommendation and my enjoyment of Catcher in the Rye (back in 2001 when I stole it from a Hostel’s library in Spain) I took out Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenter and Seymour: an introduction from the library a few weeks back.

    I just finished both. Thanks. Solid recommendations. They were both thoroughly enjoyed.

    And don’t worry. I left Catcher in the Rye at a different hostel so as to share the love.

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