Monday, November 23, 2009

Picnic, Lightning

Now, the truth of the matter is that while I work in BOOKS, I'm not the biggest reader of fiction. Nonfiction is more my game, with memoirs from and histories of Hollywood's 'Golden Age' being one of my favorite BISAC codes.

Oh, sure, I just finished An American Wife and liked it very much - it was an excellent romance novel set in the White House (and I'm mildly jealous since I took an English Comp class with the author in college), and just yesterday I finally bought a copy of Lush Life, at the soon to be extinct Biography Bookshop a few blocks south of me - Irony Alert! It's NOT a biography!

Speaking of Irony, nobody did it better than Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, who is no doubt my favorite writer. His genius positively staggers me, and I can read and re-read my favorites by him multiple times with new rewards with each flip of the page. One of my most prized possessions is a first edition of Pale Fire, perhaps my favorite book of all time.

(It's worth noting, in the great CRD Venn Diagram, that Miss Shelley Winters starred in a rather Kubrickian (very Kubrickian, I guess) production of his most famous novel).

Anyway, just last week his son took a break from opera singing and race-car driving to publish The Original of Laura, the novel VN was working on when he died. It is unfinished, and was supposed to be burned, and yet now, for the price of almost two Andrew Jacksons, we can flip through the master's note[card]s.

I'll get to that in good time and perhaps will even report back, but today I'm enjoying flipping through this slideshow from the Wall Street Journal. These are re-designed jackets for some of his classics.

Mr. Chip Kidd tackles Ada, something I personally have tackled multiple times in my life (from memory: in 1998 in Austin, TX, 2005 in the Catskills, NY, and 2009 in the Chelsea River Park), never getting much further than page 100, but loving the battle.
Stephen Doyle re-does Pale Fire, which thrilled me both in 1996 in Poughkeepsie, NY and 1997 in Miami Beach.
I can't even remember how many times I've read Pnin - at least a dozen. Carin Goldberg takes this one on, and while I prefer my banged up mass market edition, seeing this makes me want to break my heart all over again with this tale of viscous and sawdust.

Mr. Nabokov, my hat tips to you.

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