Nabokov once described himself “as American as April in Arizona,” which is an odd thing to call yourself when you’re a lepidopterist Russian expat. In Nabokov in America, Robert Roper explores why Nabokov felt he was so American, and how his journey to that identity influenced his writing of Lolita. At The Literary Review, Ian Sansom reviews Roper’s book.
Out this week: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews; The Letters of TS Eliot: Volume 5; Rocket and Lightship by Adam Kirsch; The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum; and a single-volume edition of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Recommended Reading: This interview at The Paris Review with poet Morgan Parker: "I think personal narrative is really important for the individual and for a collective and for a people. I think it’s important to have agency in that narrative. There’s so much about contemporary life where one story is written upon the person by the outside world, by circumstance."
"The blackly comic energy of Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts—its caustic ebullience, the strange buoyancy of its suffering—is a remarkably American achievement, a kind of death-dance capered on the corpse of a vividly rendered early 1930s Manhattan." On Miss Lonelyhearts, the darkest American masterpiece.
On the infinite recreation and reimagining of Finnegans Wake, a book that was "crying out for the invention of the web, which would enable the holding of multiple domains of knowledge in the mind at one time that a proper reading requires," from The Guardian.
Erika Anderson recites her teenage poetry at readings and shares her reasoning for doing so. "I want to live where irony meets kindness, where daring meets bullshit, where everything that failed meets the hope that something might not. I hope my readers do too."