Thursday, January 28, 2010

Viscous and Sawdust

The novels we know best have an architecture. Not only a door going in and another leading out, but rooms, hallways, stairs, little gardens front and back, trapdoors, hidden passageways, et cetera. It's a fortunate reader who knows half a dozen novels this way in their lifetime. I know one, Pnin, having read it half a dozen times. When you enter a beloved novel many times, you can come to feel that you possess it, that nobody else has ever lived there. You try not to notice the party of impatient tourists trooping through the kitchen (Pnin a minor scenic attraction en route to the canyon Lolita), or that shuffling academic army, moving in perfect phalanx, as they stalk a squirrel around the backyard (or a series of squirrels, depending on their methodology). Even the architect's claim on his creation seems secondary to your wonderful way of living in it.

Zadie Smith on my favorite Nabokov novel, one that I too have read a half dozen times, and given away at least that many.

(And yes I realize in the photo that it is literally Nabokov on Zadie Smith, rather than Zadie Smith on Nabokov. And I didn't have a squirrel but the little buddy I used otter be close enough.)

1 comment:

ALH said...

What are those things? They seem to be made of paper.