Lolita

lolitaLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Publisher: Vintage
Number of pages: 376
My copy: Kindle edition

Awe and exhilaration—along with heartbreak and mordant wit—abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love—love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

* * *

There are some books that I told myself I would never read. I would never put them in an actual list, really, but I know that these are the books that I would ignore in a bookstore, books that I wouldn’t even think of buying. Reasons behind this may vary, but you know how we readers have preferences depending on the books we enjoy, or the time we have or the things we value, and all that.

I said that about Les Miserables late last year. I’d never read it because it’s just too thick, and I simply have no time. Then I read it and finished it in 45 days.

I said the same thing for Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. I didn’t think I would read it, because frankly, I found the topic icky. I mean, a grown man supposedly “in love” with a child? I squirm at the thought — just as how I squirmed and looked away when I watched those crime shows (based on a true story or not) that involved someone who sexually abuses a child. It’s just not something I would even want to read, quite honestly.

And then, Lolita won in our book club’s polls for our September discussion. I guess in a way it was my fault for suggesting banned books as a topic for September, and this one made it to the final list. Lolita was far more popular than the two other books in the list, so it was kind of a shoo-in to win. I remember thinking (and saying this to one of the discussion moderators): Perhaps it’s time for me to read this. Year of the Brave, you say?

I won’t talk about the plot anymore because this is a pretty popular novel, with its controversial themes and gorgeous prose, as they say. I knew I was a apprehensive when I started reading hits. No, not because I can relate to any of it (thank God I don’t), but because I was wary of how it would go with me. Lolita is readable overall, because its prose isn’t hard to read, nor it is boring. It’s very well-written, actually, and it’s commendable especially since Nabokov’s first language is Russian. Humbert Humbert comes off as an unreliable narrator from the start, and Lolita is his account of what happened with her and to some events that led him to make that statement. I got confused about that, honestly — why “statement”? I figure he did something wrong there, but what? Did he kill someone? Who? Did he kill Lolita? (No, this isn’t a spoiler)

Let me go back to the prose. It was gorgeous, and surprisingly, it isn’t explicit. I mean, sometimes I have to go back to some passages to understand what Nabokov was writing about and then I’ll realize what happened there. Huh. And then I read on, and I go all, “Huh” again. I mean that in a good way, really.

Here’s the thing: I sort of predicted from the start that I would probably not rate Lolita higher than three stars, given that this isn’t really the kind of book I would read. I think even my friends expected that. But when I got to the end while I waited in line at the bank to pay some bills…I don’t know, I knew I couldn’t rate it that. I can’t explain it in full, but there was something in that ending that just made me change my mind. Is it the writing? Probably. Is it how Nabokov somehow made Humbert Humbert seemed deserving of sympathy? Maybe. I don’t know, really. It’s been a little over a month since I finished this book, but I still can’t answer that. All I know is I found myself thinking at the ending. It doesn’t make everything that he did or whatever happened in the story less icky because it is icky, period. But somehow, there was something in the ending that made me change my mind about rating this novel.

Lolita is controversial, I have to agree. But I also agree that this is just one of those books that a reader has to read in their lifetime. I’m glad my book club made me read this.

Number of dog-ears: 15

Favorite dog-eared quote(s):

We loved each other with a premature love, marked by a fierceness that so often destroys adult lives.

My heart was a hysterical, unreliable organ.

And presently I was driving through the drizzle of the dying day, with the windshield wipers in full action but unable to cope with my tears.

Rating:

Required Reading: September

Other reviews:

Required Reading 2013: October

I knew it. I knew that my blogging would improve after I did the facelift. I wrote 8 posts in September, which isn’t really a lot compared to the Septembers in the past three years that this blog has been in existence, but it’s a little bit more regular than the past months. Yay. I still have a backlog to work through, but I’ll get to that soon! :)

September was busy in terms of my personal life, with lots of work and trips and tutoring weekends and all that. I was still a very slow reader, though, but it was okay, because…well, I can’t do much about that when life is taking over. :P With that, I finished just one book from my September list:

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (4/5) – This was surprising in the sense that I didn’t think I would like it. Then I got to the end and I was all, “Huh.” In a good way. I can’t say it’s the best book I ever read, and it still has an icky topic…but I think I understand why people say that this is one of those books that you should read in your life time. Trust me. If you think the first parts are too much, just read through it and get to the end and then see what you think about it. :)

I totally gave up on A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin because I just wasn’t in the mood. I’m sorry, reading buddies. I barely moved from page 250. :/ I’m still reading Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland #2, and I didn’t even oven Lili Wilkinson’s The Zigzag Effect. I’m actually best friends with Hannah the Kindle now, because I find that I read more when I use it. I am starting to miss paper books, though!

Required Reading 2013

October is usually the month I decide to pick scary books and all that, and I almost thought of that now…until I realized that our book club’s book for this month is a little thick. So I backtracked and chose other books instead.

October Books

  • Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay – our book club’s book of the month. This discussion will be moderated by two of my minions favorite TFG boys, Aaron and JL. I’ve heard good things about the book, but you know I’m not such a high fantasy girl, so I started on this a little early. I like what I’ve read so far, and I hope I like this as much as my minions favorite boys do. ;)
  • Trese: Stories from the Diabolical by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo – I missed paper books, but I don’t feel like picking up the regular volumes (by regular, I mean 300+ pages) because I feel like I won’t be able to read it anyway. So I decided to go back to my favorite Filipino graphic novel and read this sort-of spin-off. Stories from the Diabolical are side stories in the Trese series. I’ve scanned it earlier and there were some creepy illustrations. Hee. This should be quick and fun.

Like I said, I’m still reading The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, but I wasn’t able to put it in the picture. It’s still slow reading, but I really liked how Valente weaves her words, so I’m excited to continue with that. :)

October will be another busy month with life and stuff, plus Filipino ReaderCon 2013 preparations, and another trip (yay!), but I will try to keep blogging. :) Try is the operative word, so. :P Happy October, friends!

 

Required Reading 2013: September (and then some)

Hello folks, look at that – it’s September! In the Philippines, Christmas preparations start as early as today so I will go ahead and say: Merry Christmas! :P

On another note, August has come and gone, and I read a lot of books this month (compared to last month, anyway) because there were several long weekends in the month. :) I wasn’t able to finish all August books, though, because I got distracted by other shiny little books along the way. Still, no regrets. :D

  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay (4/5) – the reread was as charming as the first time. We had our discussion yesterday and it was filled with warmth, especially with all the sibling stories we shared. :)
  • No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (3/5) – I didn’t like some of the stories, but there were others that were really good ones. Here’s to trying to find time to blog about it soon.

I didn’t touch Jasper Fforde’s book at all, or even made really good progress with A Clash of Kings. Well. But I’m not hurrying anything, so…let’s go to September. :D

Required Reading: September

No particular theme this month, except for that spillover from July. I’ve tried to balance out the serious and lighter books but I don’t even know if I will be able to read them all. Heh. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to try. :D

September 2013 books

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – our book club’s book of the month. I hope I’m ready for this. XD
  2. A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin – it is my hope to finish this soon, except that I’m still at page 250ish. Not that it’s boring — it’s not. I’m just not in the mood for it for some reason. Oh well, I must soldier on!
  3. The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson – something light to offset the first two. :)
  4. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente – just because the main character’s name is September. :)

Now we go to the “and then some” part of the post. I haven’t really been blogging, obviously, and I think I found out why: I’m not too interested in it anymore. This doesn’t mean I will stop blogging, though — I think maybe I just need a little change. I think I may have outgrown the “One More Page” aspect of this blog.

SO…I am going to apologize in advance if I don’t really blog yet anytime soon, but trust me, I’ve got something going on for this blog. It may include a blog facelift of sorts and even a name change, something to reflect my new reading habits, among other things. :) This won’t take too long, I hope! (Maybe by mid September? :D)

Have a happy reading month, you guys. :)