Transparent Things – Vladimir Nabokov
To be honest, when I went to the library, I was really looking for Lolita but it was checked out and as chance would have it this was sitting offset in the rack so it caught my eye, and I’m glad it did.
On the surface, it is the story of Hugh Person, an unlikely hero who confronts the the trials of life in “sentimental journey” through his past. However, the plot weaves a disjointed recollection of events through Hugh’s life where dreams and memories are often off-set by a vagueness of reality and the theoretical ramblings of the characters to skew the perception of time itself. This helps produce sympathy toward characters and notions about events in unusual ways and if viewed from afar is a reflection of each of our manipulations of our past in order to demonstrate how we define ourselves.
Traversing love, death and personal challenged resulting in all kinds of embarrassments and failed accomplishments the topsy-turvy nature of Hugh’s life creates a virtual virtigo for the reader at points, challenging them to piece together the subtext only after the book is complete. I found myself re-reading parts post-completion just to ensure I picked up all the subtlties alluded to one part of the book when presented in another (and still, I’m not sure I’ve even begun to capture everything)
Challenges in comprehension aside on the surface reading it feels like a flowing read that allows one to drift along the creation of scenes rather easily which probably masks the depth of the novel in this illusion of simplicity. Relatablity is one of Nabokov’s strengths and in the vingettes of Hugh’s life there are certainly more than enough moments reflecting the real life experience of many readers that help the work appear more effortless than it is, meaning he’s among the rare authors who allows a reader to take away exactly what they bring in. Transparent Things was written in English rather than translated lending to prose that feels more organic and natural as well which probably also contributes to the overall experience.
Immortality, a Novel – Milan Kundera
Kundera himself once joked this was actually the story Unbearable Lightness of Being was supposed to be and having read now the majority of Kundera’s work, I might be inclined to agree with that sentiment. In true Kundera fashion the experimental nature of the work defies most literally techniques in an almost anti-climatic exuberance.
Exploring the in witty and profound ways Immortality does as you would expect in its satirical critiques and of the social and cultural observations.