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review 2017-06-10 20:26
Speak, Memory, by Vladimir Nabokov
Novels and Memoirs, 1941-1951: The Real Life of Sebastian Knight / Bend Sinister / Speak, Memory (Library of America #87) - Vladimir Nabokov,Brian Boyd

(Review for Speak, Memory only: four stars)

 

It was a pleasure to read Nabokov after so long. I forgot how easy it is to get carried along by the flow and particularities of his prose, sometimes to the point of losing the meaning of what's being expressed. Speak, Memory is a kind of memoir of Nabokov's childhood through his family's exile in Europe following the Russian Revolution. I learned (or was reminded of) a lot that sheds light on his writing, such as the fact that he had synesthesia (syllables and letters had colors). He read and wrote English before Russian but later lamented that his English skills did not match those in Russian (if only I read Russian!). At one point he states that once he used a detail of his life for his fiction, it felt like it was no longer his.

 

If you're familiar with Nabokov, you'll enjoy the passages detailing or referencing his passion for butterfly hunting. In fact my favorite line in the book concerns it: "America has shown even more of this morbid interest in my retiary activities than other countries have--perhaps because I was in my forties when I came there to live, and the older the man, the queerer he looks with a butterfly net in his hand." Lol, indeed.

 

I was less interested in some of the earlier chapters that focus on his extended family, but there were still fascinating stories to be had, and his prose is always worth it.

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review 2017-04-29 14:09
Lolita
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov,Craig Raine

I loved it. I had always assumed that I would hate it, knowing that it was about an older man taking advantage of a very young girl. What I hadn't realized was that it is a book knowingly written from the villain's point of view. I had thought it would be all excuses and romanticism. That stuff is there, sure, but thinly veiled so that the read may hear HH's excuses to himself and still see right through them. Unfortunately, I do also recognize how parts could easily be represented as Lolita's complicity in her situation, but these would fail to take into consideration either her initial naivete (which many girls that young have had about older men), her recognition of a situation that is quite hopeless, or the significant possibility of Stockholm's syndrome. Of course, there is also the fact that HH is writing in the first person and everything about her is therefore subject to his interpretation. The challenge of the book, and part of its genius perhaps, is seeing Lolita herself outside of his interpretation. It makes me want to see the movie and how the actress interprets Lolita's actions. I've read other books by men that are associated more with the way women are perceived by them then women actually are (Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby for starters) that should do the same thing but I had unfortunately not gone into those prepared for their intentional misrepresentation of my gender and hated them on the first read. (I do owe both a reread since I was told the opinion on it that the women were intentionally written the way they were to point out some men's lack of realization that we are in fact fully three dimensional beings) I do hate the definition and use of the word "nymphet" in practical use but I get why the author included it. I thought it really helped deliver the delusional nature of Humbert's vision of Lolita and the way he romanticized and lusted after girls that were far too young. I did, however, appreciate the inclusion of Humbert's background and some notable things within it. Specifically, those things are the lapses in mental health, his attempts at staying within decency, and his prior love, Annabel. I don't know enough about psychology to have an informed opinion on whether her death really contributed to his affinity for young girls but it made an interesting hypothesis on the part of the afflicted. It was interesting, and super creepy, to see the way his ability to control Lolita's life played into both his hunger for her and many of her responses to him. The progression of their "relationship" was again mostly creepy but interesting in that way we only can be in fiction when it's not real people that are being hurt. His power over her made him increasingly tyrannical as power has been historically shown to do. The whole story climaxes in such a way that is so consistent with the character's personalities and strangely satisfying in it's own way. I'd rather not spoil it, though anyone could easily look up the whole synopsis on Wikipedia if interested, it's linked about anyway. I listened to a copy from the library that was read by Jeremy Irons who also played the protagonist in the 1997 film. I had finally picked it up to listen to as my hold on Reading Lolita in Tehran finally came through, which is also proving to be a great book and gave me some necessary insight into Nabokov's writing style and Humbert's character.

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text 2017-04-22 11:37
22nd April 2017
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov,Craig Raine

And the rest is rust and stardust.

 

Vladimir Nabokov

 

Vladimir Nabokov (born April 22, 1899) grew up trilingual, fully fluent in Russian, English, and French. He translated his own books and was fond of linguistic humor. He inserted "himself" in Lolita as Vivian Darkbloom, an anagram of his name.

 

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text 2017-03-28 16:41
Albert Einstein- "On a Beam of Light"
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein - Jennifer Berne,Vladimir Radunsky

On a Beam of Light is a story about Albert Einstein's life and how he was not at first accepted by others. When reading this text, I even learned new things I did not know about his life. This story starts off by explaining that Albert did not talk much as a toddler and his parents knew he was very special. It goes on with Einstein attending school and a teacher scrutinizing him to be more like his peers. He began reading books about numbers, light, and sound and wanted to be a teacher someday, but was unable to find a job and began working in a government office. Eventually, he began sending letters to science magazines who in return published his works, because they seemed to be true. The story ends with Albert leaving many questions for scientist to answer today. This story would be great to use with a research project or comparing and contrasting important historical figures. It also includes a character lesson that encourages students to stay true to theirselves and always believe in their potential. This story is a 4.5 on the AR system for leveling. 

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review 2017-02-23 02:59
The Blizzard, by Vladimir Sorokin
The Blizzard: A Novel - Vladimir Sorokin... The Blizzard: A Novel - Vladimir Sorokin,Jamey Gambrell

Platon Ilich Garin has a mission. He must get a vaccine to Dolgoye to stop an epidemic. But there’s a blizzard. And he’s stuck in a town with no way to get to Dolgoye. And the epidemic is a zombie virus. This kind of set up is what I’ve come to expect from Vladimir Sorokin. The Blizzard (translated by Jamey Gambrell) just keeps piling on the weird until things get downright surreal...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

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