Patricia Lockwood on Nabokov, ostensibly to review a new volume of his uncollected interviews, essays, lectures and the like.

If Lolita is in many ways the most accessible of Nabokov’s novels, it is because it places the labyrinth outside, in the sunlight. After all, most people who read Lolita in a swoon of desire don’t want to fuck a child, they want to go on a road trip, and read Burma Shave billboards out loud from the passenger seat. It is a commonplace by now that Lolita is the greatest novel ever written not about love, but about advertising. … I am reminded of my father-in-law (no, not like that), who once insisted on staying at a hotel called the Free Breakfast Inn simply because of the promise implicit in its name. All the other hotels also offered free breakfast, but only one of them was the Free Breakfast Inn, and that is what it means to be an American.

This is the most straight-forward passage in the whole essay. I loved it, and even as a Nabokov fan I took in about 10% of it. Will absolutely re-read. Lockwood is on some wild astral plane lately, and I can’t wait for her first novel, which comes in February of 2021.

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