Have you ever read Nabokov? Here's a sample sentence: "This slow, somewhat somnambulistic ascension in self-engendered darkness held obvious delights." That's about him as a child walking up some stairs with his eyes closed.
That's actually one of my favorite sentences of his in recent memory, because you look at each word and it's like "daamn, self-engendered darkness -- that's EXACTLY what it is."
That being said, I both like and really don't like him.
I've mentioned before that in college I took a course on him because my favorite professor was teaching it. We read eight -- EIGHT -- of his books, a fact by which I am still outraged because it's more than I've read of many authors I quite like. And now with Speak, Memory, I'm just adding to that number. Boo.
But as with anything you're over-exposed to, I have a weird fondness for him. I'll say an affectionate "Nabokov, you bastard" when he decides to write his millionth inside-joke-with-himself into his book. Because that's what he does. There are innumerable jokes-just-for-him and tricks in his books and I HATE THAT, but I've gotten used to it. I'm just kind of resigned to not getting a vast portion of what I read of his.
What did I enjoy, you say? Why, a few things.
Invitation to a Beheading. I took my Nabokov course at the same time I took a Dickens course, and Invitation was SO WELCOME by the time I finished the semester. Because Dickens is great in small amounts. Meaning one book. Maybe two. When you get to the third or fourth in a small amount of time, you want to murder the Victorian era and all its strictures. "Oh, of COURSE this is going to happen and this other thing can't happen, because that was the accepted morality/decorum." I was so sick of Victorian lit by the end of that course, all I wanted was its antithesis. Which would be Invitation, because it is INSANE and has no rules.
Check out this synopsis: "The novel takes place in a prison and relates the final twenty days of Cincinnatus C., a citizen of a fictitious country, who is imprisoned and sentenced to death for 'gnostical turpitude.'" Only there is more. Fantastic, weirdass book.
Lolita just irritated me. When searching my e-mail for Feelings At the Time of Reading It, I came across this note to my brother: "People who say Atlas Shrugged and Lolita are their favorite books are a particular kind of dumb."
I still stand by that to a certain degree, but I have more tolerance for it than I used to, i.e. people can say they like it and I won't instantly name them pretentious literary wannabes.
Basically I'm just a big fan of Pnin and Pale Fire. They are both awesome AND, bonus, were first written in English, so you're not getting the translated versions.
This was obviously a necessary post.