Well, another year of fantastic genre X reading is complete—thanks to everyone who made it out for one of our discussions this year! Now that it’s December we’re taking a break from the assigned reading to have our 4th annual Holiday Book Swap. This year the swap will once again be at Molly Malone’s on Tuesday, December 14 at 8pm.
So how does the book swap work? Please bring one wrapped book—this can be something you’ve enjoyed from your own collection, or a new copy of a book you want to share. Everyone’s book goes into a pile, and we all draw numbers—then the fun begins. We do the swapping White Elephant-style, otherwise known as a Yankee Swap or Nasty Christmas. In the end, everyone goes home with some new reading material hand-selected by one of your fellow genre X-ers.
If you’re new to genre X, don’t be shy—this is a great opportunity to get to know some fellow readers! Hope to see you there!
One of the joys of reading a classic like this month’s genre X selection, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, is checking out just how its been reinterpreted since it was first published in 1955. Seeing as we’re design nerds here we’re especially interested in the Lolita cover through the ages and across the world.
Luckily for us, one website has already compiled those fabulous book covers. Covering Lolita functions as an online gallery of those covers. Make sure you go and check them all out, but here are a few of our favorites.
“I’ll put off reading Lolita for six more years until she turns 18.” Groucho Marx
genre X is getting back to the classics with this month’s selection, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Love it or loathe it, whether you’ve read it 10 times or never before, we’re sure to have a great conversation. This is our last book discussion of 2010 (before next month’s annual holiday book swap) so lets make it count and have a great discussion.
If you’re not familiar with Lolita, this Amazon review by Steven Leake is a pretty good place to start.
Despite its lascivious reputation, the pleasures of Lolita are as much intellectual as erogenous. It is a love story with the power to raise both chuckles and eyebrows. Humbert Humbert is a European intellectual adrift in America, haunted by memories of a lost adolescent love. When he meets his ideal nymphet in the shape of 12-year-old Dolores Haze, he constructs an elaborate plot to seduce her, but first he must get rid of her mother. In spite of his diabolical wit, reality proves to be more slippery than Humbert’s feverish fantasies, and Lolita refuses to conform to his image of the perfect lover.
Playfully perverse in form as well as content, riddled with puns and literary allusions, Nabokov’s 1955 novel is a hymn to the Russian-born author’s delight in his adopted language. Indeed, readers who want to probe all of its allusive nooks and crannies will need to consult the annotated edition. Lolita is undoubtedly, brazenly erotic, but the eroticism springs less from the “frail honey-hued shoulders … the silky supple bare back” of little Lo than it does from the wantonly gorgeous prose that Humbert uses to recount his forbidden passion:
She was musical and apple-sweet … Lola the bobby-soxer, devouring her immemorial fruit, singing through its juice … and every movement she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and to improve the secret system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty–between my gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent cotton frock. Much has been made of Lolita as metaphor, perhaps because the love affair at its heart is so troubling. Humbert represents the formal, educated Old World of Europe, while Lolita is America: ripening, beautiful, but not too bright and a little vulgar. Nabokov delights in exploring the intercourse between these cultures, and the passages where Humbert describes the suburbs and strip malls and motels of postwar America are filled with both attraction and repulsion, “those restaurants where the holy spirit of Huncan Dines had descended upon the cute paper napkins and cottage-cheese-crested salads.” Yet however tempting the novel’s symbolism may be, its chief delight–and power–lies in the character of Humbert Humbert. He, at least as he tells it, is no seedy skulker, no twisted destroyer of innocence. Instead, Nabokov’s celebrated mouthpiece is erudite and witty, even at his most depraved. Humbert can’t help it–linguistic jouissance is as important to him as the satisfaction of his arrested libido.
If you’re ready to spend your November with the Modern Library‘s fourth best novel of the 20th century, copies of Lolita are available for checkout with your OPPL library card at the Oak Park Public Library’s second floor Adult and Teen Services desk. Then we hope you’ll join us at Molly Malone’s (Upstairs) on Tuesday, November 23rd, at 8 pm for the discussion.