Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 1962
Genre Fiction
My Copy library hardback
First Read January 18, 2013

Pale Fire

A very funny not-quite-novel from Nabokov. It's structured as a lengthy introduction and commentary on a long narrative poem by another author. As you read the notes - which can be read either intertextually as you read the poem, or after the poem itself, slowly reveal that the 'editor', Charles Kimbote, had a dubious relationship with the original poet.

This, like, Lolita, is a really technically stunning book, but a bit soulless in its display of prowess. I walked away just amazed by Nabokov the man, and uninterested in the plot of the novel itself.

Noted on March 4, 2013

Of the not very many ways known of shedding one's body, falling, falling, falling is the supreme method, but you have to select your sill or ledge very carefully so as not to hurt yourself or others. Jumping from a high bridge is not recommended even if you cannot swim, for wind and water abound in weird contingencies, and tragedy ought not to culminate in a record dive or a policeman's promotion. If you rent a cell in the luminous waffle, room 1915 or 1959, in a tall business centre hotel browing the star dust, and pull up the window, and gently - not fall, not jump - but roll out as you should for air comfort, there is always the chance of knocking clean through into your own hell a pacific noctambulator walking his dog; in this respect a back room might be safer, especially if giving on the roof of an old tenacious normal house far below where a cat may be trusted to flash out of the way. Another popular take-off is a mountaintop with a sheer drop of say 500 meters but you must find it, because you will be surprised how easy it is to miscalculate your deflection offset, and have some hidden projection, some fool of a crag, rush forth to catch you, causing you to bounce off it into the brush, thwarted, mangled and unnecessarily alive. The ideal drop is from an aircraft, your muscles relaxed, your pilot puzzled, your packed parachute shuffled off, cast off, shrugged off - farewell, shootka (little chute)! Down you go, but all the while you feel suspended and buoyed as you somersault in slow motion like a somnolent tumbler pigeon, and sprawl supine on the eiderdown of the air, or lazily turn to embrace your pillow, enjoying every last instant of soft, deep, death-padded life, with the earth's green seesaw now above, now below, and the voluptuous crucifixion, as you stretch yourself in the growing rush, in the nearing swish, and then your loved body's obliteration in the Lap of the Lord.

Quoted on March 4, 2013

We can at last describe his tie, an Easter gift from a dressy butcher, his brother in law in Onhava: imitation silk, colour chocolate brown barred with red, the end tucked into the shirt between the second and third buttons - a Zemblan fashion of the ninteen thirties.

Quoted on March 4, 2013

All the seven deadly sins are peccadilloes but without three of them, Pride, Lust, and Sloth, poetry might never have been born.

Quoted on March 4, 2013

...and an old but unused pocket diary optimistically maturing there until its calendric correspondencies came around again.

Quoted on March 4, 2013

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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