Tuesday, December 11, 2007


In a May 2001 interview, artist Dan Clowes mentioned Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire. Of everything said in the 24-page conversation, this little passage stuck out:

"I thought that was such a great thing in Pale Fire how this unreliable critic who's sort of mis-analyzing this whole epic poem that John Shade has written, is actually creating this whole new work of art that's possibly even superior to this great poem itself."

The concept seemed fantastic but I never picked up the novel or read much else about it (I guess I had better things to do at the time like get divorced). Over time, I forgot about this "John Shade" character and developed the idea that the book was comprised of a poem by Nabokov and a wild analysis written by his neighbor. Pale Fire came up in conversation with RSW, who often recommends the book to people and said he'd lend me his copy. On the back, John Updike dishes praise saying Nabokov writes prose "the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." With my misconstrued idea and Updike's quote, I began to read the book as if it were a serious and impassioned analysis by Nabokov's neighbor. It made no sense so I researched the book a bit. Re-reading the forward, it was apparent how badly I mis-read it and how fucking funny the book might be.

I've been desperate for a book to dive into as I was getting faded just about every day for a spell there and my brain was starting to shrink

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