July 17, 2006

Nabokov, you genius!

I'm reading Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and I was highly impressed by the first two paragraphs:

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita."

What an introduction!


  1. Some reading is like eating birthday cake or burgers: there's little nourishment, it's quickly finished, but it's comforting and enjoyable.

    Nabokov, however, is meant to be slowly savored. His is the caviar or truffle of English prose.

  2. hmmmm. We have different taste in literature, it would seem. I'm not all that impressed by it. Didn't you say once that you loved the book "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez? I HATED that book. I could NOT finish it. It was so stinking boring. No offense to those who like that sort of literature. It's just not my flavour.

  3. You're not impressed by my taste in literature?


    I did love "One Hundred Years of Solitude." Garcia Marquez is one of my literary heroes! And thus far, I really like "Lolita." It's deeply disturbing, but also extremely fascinating. It's very psychological and I don't think I've ever come across a book like this before.

    I also love "East of Eden," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Martian Chronicles," "Possession," "Ender's Game," and "Tess of the D'Urbervilles." I'd like to think my literary tastes are diverse. Perhaps we have more in common than you think! After all, we both liked "The Lovely Bones"!

    After "Lolita," I want to tackle "The Things They Carried." And after that, I'd be happy to tackle any book that you recommend to me, Trav.

    (As well as any books you can recommend for me, John!)

  4. ha ha. You are right. There is probably more overlap than not. I'm not "dissing" your tastes in literature - if anything you seem to be more well read than I am, and you seem to enjoy a lot of books that I'm too narrow-minded to enjoy. As for Lolita, I've actually always wanted to read it. I just wasn't really impressed with the opening. Oh well. That doesn't mean anything. I'm sure it's a find book - as is "One Hundred Years of Solitude." I just personally didn't like it. I dunno. No offense intended at all! On the whole I think you have great taste in literature - probably better than I do.

  5. p.s. I meant that I wasn't impressed by the Lolita quote, not that I wasn't impressed by your taste in literature - that would just be rude. Sorry for the confusion.

  6. My taste is pretty narrow as well--too much mystery, science fiction and fantasy. Nowadays I spend most of my time reading non-fiction. But I have enjoyed my excursions outside of my safe little genre haven.

    I studied the eponymous story from "The Things They Carried" for a creative writing class. Tim O'Brien is a master of the short story. I hope you'll write your impressions the book when you complete it.

    Garcia Marquez has been on my list for a long time. I know about the sublime opening line: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad"...um, he remembered something about his childhood. And ice. I'll have to bump that one up the list! My own fiction writing style has a dose of magical realism, so I really, really want to read the master.

    Speaking of masters, have you read "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov? In it the devil and a human-sized black cat visit atheist Moscow, and hijinks ensue. Woven through it is a story about the redemption of Pilate. Not only is he one of my favorite authors, he's also another Nobel Laureate ending in -kov, which should be reason enough. ;)

    Lastly, have you read "Speaker for the Dead"? It's the sequel to Ender's Game, and many argue that it's the better story (and none of the other books in the Ender Saga top the first two). Did you know that Card is active LDS and lives within a few hours of you? You might also enjoy "Seventh Son", which has echos of Joseph Smith running throughout.

    I also recommend "Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis, which is about a young historian woman who travels back to England near the time of the Black Death.

    I could go on all day, so I'll just stop here. :)

  7. I've never even heard of Mikail Bulgakov! Ah, I am ashamed to admit that I minored in English... I will definitely have to look into "The Master and Margarita." Sounds like an interesting read!

    I haven't read "Speaker for the Dead," but I think I'll check it out the next time I'm at the library. I read "Ender's Game" in high school and loved it. I was (pleasantly) surprised when I read the introduction and Orson Scott Card mentioned his LDS mission to Brazil. (It seems like he's interwoven his Brazilian background in a few of his novels too.) I hear he's now teaching at Utah Valley State College. Wouldn't it be awesome to take a class by him?

    And if you have time, John, definitely try out "One Hundred Years of Solitude"! Like Travis said, it's not for everyone, but I think it's extremely well-written. I love magical realism.

    And Trav, no offense taken at all! Haha. It's just nice to know that we both love and appreciate literature. I meet a lot of people who avoid fiction (which makes me sad) and so it's great to know that you love fiction as much as I do! And again, if you have any recommendations, please send them my way!