In his lifetime, Vladimir Nabokov travelled widely, logging many years each in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Ithaca, New York, where he wrote Lolita while teaching at Cornell. His peripatetic history explains why few people know he spent a summer in Utah, during which he spent a lot of time chasing butterflies and fishing in the streams. In The American Scholar, an excerpt of Nabokov in America, an upcoming book by Richard Roper. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
Last week, I pointed readers to an article about Michael Faber’s latest book and his decision to quit writing fiction. Now, in the Times Book Review, Marcel Theroux sizes up the novel, writing that “the reader is drawn through the book effortlessly, by the combination of incidental strangeness and the suspenseful handling of plot.”
Eccentric celebrity chef José Andrés (who should be familiar to fans of No Reservations) has an enviable library of cookbooks and volumes of food history. He even owns a notepad of Honoré Julien’s (Chef for both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) which allegedly proves the Frenchman introduced French fries to America.
The new book release schedule is slow in December, but the third book in Javier Marías’ acclaimed Your Face Tomorrow trilogy is now out, Poison, Shadow, and Farewell. Also, new on shelves is The True Deceiver, a 1982 novel by the Finnish writer Tove Jansson from NYRB Classics.
Fans of the French Oulipo movement will know about A Void, the Georges Perec novel written entirely without the use of the letter “e.” What very few readers of any kind know, however, is that in 1939, thirty years before Perec’s novel was published, Ernest Vincent Wright wrote a book in English, Gadsby, that hewed to these same constraints. At The Atlantic, Nikhil Sonnad investigates how this experiment plays out in the book.