Transparent Things, by Vladimir Nabokov

Six stars

After reading Vladimir Nabokov’s (in)famous. Lolita, I chose to find another piece of the author’s writing to see if I could find a balance to offer a better, well-rounded sentiment. I turned to this novella—Nabokov’s shortest piece—in hopes that it would provide me with something to get to the core of the Nabokov writing style without needing to splice out some of the more controversial aspects of the story. This story pertains to the life of Hugh Person, a young publisher who is sent to Switzerland to interview a prominent figure. Clumsy beyond belief, Hugh does his best to complete the work assigned, but ends up falling in love with a local woman, Armande, along the way. Their love sees them return to New York, though Hugh is not one to lay down too many roots and ends up in a heap of trouble, which only leads to more headache and a final return to Europe. Back in Switzerland, Hugh must come to terms with the entirety of his life. With a deceptive title, this was anything but clear, even though the book is barely one hundred pages. Not the comparative piece I had hoped to use to flesh out my sentiments about Vladimir Nabokov.

I had high hopes that I would come out of this short piece with a stronger connection to the Nabokovian writing style and one in which the reader is not subjected to illegal thoughts and action on each page. However, rather than see paedophilia, I was subjected to random thoughts strung together in ways that made little sense to me. To call it confusing would be an understatement, though perhaps it is my problem for trying to make sense of Russian literature. Nabokov creates a dense and opaque narrative at best, using characters who seem not to go much of anywhere. At least in Lolita I could see the path and the troubles that lay ahead. Here, I am left to ponder what I, the reader, am doing on this journey. I am still hoping to find that balance (now between two pieces by the author) to see if it is me, or whether Vladimir Nabokov is an author whose writing and style is best left out of my reading bubble.

Kudos, Mr. Nabokov, for confusing me from the outset and throughout. I am thoroughly flustered now, more than I was with the incestuous book that piqued my curiosity in your work to begin this journey.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: