In some ways, I wish I hadn’t read Strong Opinions, the volume of Nabokov interviews. Mostly, I guess, because he used to seem a lot more likable. The Nabokov of Speak, Memory, for instance, is a very engaging and clever intellectual with a hint of the raconteur. Not so the persona of the interviews. As […]

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Winston Churchill once characterized Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” What would he have made of Vladimir Nabokov? A great prose stylist, but what did he mean by it all? In interviews, when asked about the meaning of his work, he would vehemently deny any meaning at all. He claimed […]

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The other day in the Wall Street Journal there was an article about Martin Amis in which the reporter, showcasing Amis’ excellence at description, included the following quote: His eyes were positively flamboyant.  Looking at those eyes, you felt not just fear but also the kind of depression that would normally take a week to […]

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Some time ago I noted how cute it would have been to have set The Great American Desert in the part of Illinois known as Little Egypt, but that I wasn’t so foolish to write about a place I don’t know.  In a local color novel, which Desert certainly is to some extent, using an […]

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