Brow Beat

Franny and Who-ey?

When J.D. Salinger died on Jan. 27, he left an array of burning questions unanswered. What exactly had the reclusive writer been working on since 1965, when his last short story, ” Hapworth 16, 1924 ,” was published in The New Yorker ? Did he really take to drinking his own urine in his later years? And, perhaps most perplexingly of all, does Zooey Glass’ first name rhyme with “gluey” or “showy?”

Google “how is Zooey pronounced” and you’ll be greeted with 17,700 results none of them conclusive. Many note that the actress Zooey Deschanel, named after Salinger’s male character, pronounces her name “Zoh-ee” but her parents obviously didn’t consult Salinger before christening their daughter. And there’s a rather moving note in the anthology Letters to J.D. Salinger from a Zooey who wants to know the proper way to articulate his own name . Salinger never responded.

I called up Harold Ober Associates, Salinger’s literary agency, to solve the mystery once and for all. According to their office, the proper pronunciation is drumroll, please —” Zoh-ee.” Score one for Deschanel; I guess now there’s nothing left to do but go back to wondering about the urine.