Books and more books (Books 8/13/06)

I finished Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham , and although I had things to write about it when I finished, I can’t remember them now. Don’t blame me, it was a while ago. I think it had something to do with the expectations we put on our children to be the same as we are. Take of that what you will, because that’s all I’ve got.

I also finished Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata, which was gorgeous. The introduction to the edition I have compares the writing to haiku, and I can definitely appreciate the comparison. Unfortunately I’m having the same experience with this book that I did with The Unbearable Lightness of Being– it makes me think of so many things that I can’t pin down any one train of thought to write about. But it’s extremely good, and impressive in its visual imagery.

I remember hearing about Lo’s Diary by Pia Pera back when it came out, something about the Nabokov estate being upset over copyright infringement. Having read the book I can see why they were upset, the book is basically a rewrite of Lolita from Lolita’s perspective, and as the original isn’t in the public domain, using those characters and locations and storyline is an obvious violation. Besides that, the book adds nothing to the Lolita mythos. I suppose the concept had great potential, showing us the girl behind the nymphet that Humbert creates. Nabokov is clear in his intent that Humbert is sick, that Lolita is a construct, and that Dolores is the real little girl who cries every night over what is happening to her. This book, however, is Humbert’s dream, completely absolving him of any crime, as Dolores and Lolita become one and she is the nymphet Humbert wants her to be. The language isn’t that of any twelve to fourteen year old I’ve ever met, or of the Dolores of the original; and despite its sophistication, comes nowhere near the beauty and poetry of Nabokov’s work. I only finished it to see if it got any better, and it didn’t. So read the original.

Who I Was Supposed to Be by Susan Perabo was an impulse grab at the library, and it’s going to have to be a purchase. This collection of short stories is stunning. Each story is an intimate look at personal realization; realizations too complex to sum up in a sentence here, and seemingly too complex to be contained in stories so short. Explaining Death to the Dog is possibly the most heart breaking story I’ve ever read, and the others are equally good. These are what short stories are supposed to be.

Current total: 59

Just finished: Who I Was Supposed to Be by Susan Perabo

Currently reading: The London Pigeon Wars by Patrick Neate

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