Way back on July 28, I blogged about the summer reading list Nick Kristof of the New York Times created to give us a taste of great writing with a social justice bent. Macy of the Walnut Hills Branch of the Cincinnati Library found most of them for me, some long out of print. Most I actually read – a couple I read a few pages and then wikied. Grapes of Wrath and Les Mis I totally agree with, and am not about to plow through that prose. Too painful, and the same stories abound today, playing out all over the country and the globe.
I had to buy only one from Joseph-Beth – Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, originally published in 1962.
And that’s the last one in the bunch, the one I just finished. Took a while to read, which isn’t really normal for me. One piece is a 999-line poem, brilliant, dense, sometimes wild. The rest is a forward, detailed commentary, and index on the fictional poem and its fictional author. It’s also a fictional history of a fictional Eastern European country. With a huge surprise tucked into the pages. The book is brilliant in its weavings in and out, its meshing and unmeshing of stories and secrets. The language is incredible, the appearance and description of many varieties of butterflies is rhapsodic. The described loneliness of all parties is palpably painful. We see the crime coming and still it is dizzying in its impact.
This is a rich and incredible prose experience, very personal as well as global, dazzling to the eyes. And the mind.