Literary Mixtape: Seymour Glass


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: Seymour Glass, the most mysterious Glass.

Seymour Glass, the eldest child of Salinger’s Glass family, was a genius who became a Columbia professor at 20, a complicating and confusing gentleman who becomes deeply damaged by his experience in World War II. In A Perfect Day for Bananafish, he has relatively undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and spends all his time on his second honeymoon with the obnoxious Muriel lying on the beach wearing a bathrobe to cover an imaginary tattoo. He also hangs out with a little girl named Sybil, whom he tells about the bananafish. Then he goes back to his room and kills himself, and Salinger fans have been agonizing over his reasoning ever since. In life, we think Seymour would have listened to mostly sad music, but not your run-of-the-mill weepers. His intellect would have prevented him from listening to anything boring, obviously, but he was a strange, off-center guy, with a winking sense of humor and a fondness for irreverence and irony. Here’s what we think he would float in the ocean, talk about his feet and die of banana fever to.

“Between the Bars” — Elliott Smith

This is a track that would be constantly running through Seymour’s head — and consequently, the heads of all the readers obsessed with him. Who knows, maybe in the end Seymour was just trying to get rid of someone he’d been before that he didn’t want around anymore.

“Horseheadedfleshwizard” — Devendra Banhart

Seymour’s charmingly dissonant conversational style sounds a little Devendra Banhart-influenced to us. The kind of boy that tells stories about bananafish is probably also the kind of boy that is delighted by, well, horseheadedfleshwizards.

“International Rock Star” — Stars

Something about this dreamy ominous track about fearing the world at large makes us think of Seymour slowly kicking his feet at the beach. In his bathrobe, of course.

“Dinner for Two” — Deerhoof

This outwardly soft song devolves into Satomi repeating ‘exploding candlelight’ over and over again, which is probably what was running through Seymour’s head during dinners with Muriel. Plus, there’s nothing like Deerhoof for strange, indie-minded boys trying to push off their square girlfriends.

“Don’t Care About Anything” — Alex Winston

Seymour might just relate to this song about being surprised by your own despondency and disinterest. Plus, we think something about Winston’s weird warble would appeal to the outsider in him.

“Cold Water” — Damien Rice

The ultimate in sensitively masculine depression.

“The Future, Wouldn’t That Be Nice?” — The Books

We think, genius that he is, Seymour would definitely be one of the relatively few people to really appreciate the Books. Weird, discordant and twitchy, it’s music for people that are tired of music. Plus, his mind has a mind of its own, too.

“I Know Where the Summer Goes” — Belle & Sebastian

If anyone would listen to this ‘sad bastard music,’ albeit perhaps with a sense of irony, it would be our dear blinking friend Seymour. This song of casual disaffection might lull him to sleep out there on the beach while Muriel paints her nails.

“Something to do with my Hands” — Her Space Holiday

This song is the way Seymour got girls as a teenager. Damage is so sexy.

“Let X = X” — Laurie Anderson

As far as we’re concerned, all young people should listen to Laurie Anderson. But we think her airy weirdness and hyper-intellectual art rock would specifically appeal to the irreverent brilliance of Seymour. At least we hope so.