Friday, April 12, 2013

currently reading #1



I've been working my way through Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov since the end of Spring Break, and it's...well, it's pretty kooky!  It's my first time reading any Nabokov, though, and I have to admit, this guy's way with words is stunning.  English wasn't even his native language, and yet he had a bigger vocabulary--and a better artistry with it--than 99% of the people "speaking" (air quotes) "English" (air quotes) today. 

Pale Fire is a bit of a puzzle because it's a poem...within a book...within a book.  Let me peel back the layers for you:

Pale Fire is actually a 999-line poem written by a fictional poet named John Shade.  A friend of his, Dr. Kinbote, wraps the poem in a commentary and foreword, and that makes up the actual book Pale Fire by Nabokov.  I know, it's a little weird. 

Nabokov plays with your subconscious in a masterful way.  In fact, it's a little creepy how things you just barely noticed when reading lodge in your mind, later cropping up and making perfect sense.  Like, "How did I not see this coming? It's so obvious now!"

Still, the main appeal of the book for me so far is the sprinkling of little gems of turn of phrase.  "And the sky turned away showing its ethereal vertebrae."  It's gorgeous, and it's worth the bizarrely graphic extended analogies and annoying fawning of Kinbote and all the weirdness that goes on in between.

Have you read Pale Fire?  Will you?  What are you reading at the moment?