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D. Maskelyne "strange creature" (UK)

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Vintage Nabokov
Vintage Nabokov
by Vladimir Nabokov
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Nabokov's gift, 4 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Vintage Nabokov (Paperback)
I sometimes wonder what criteria the mysterious hand that selects the pieces to make up a reader uses. 'Vintage Nabokov' smacks of a certain random sensation, almost, but not quite, Nabokovian in texture. This is not to suggest that anything not worth readining is contained within its cover, merely that when it comes to Nabokov, everything shimmers and sparkles.

The collection opens with 'The Return of Chorb', a short story about a man returning from his honeymoon to perform the task of telling his in-laws that their daughter is dead. In true Nabokovian form the characters come together for a truly well set-up ending. A fantastic story to be sure, but why kick off with it? When I compared this reader with 'The Portable Nabokov' (selected with the author's collaboration) I found that they shared four stories in common - 'Cloud, Castle, Lake', 'Signs and Symbols', 'Lance' and 'The Vane Sisters'. While 'Vintage Nabokov' contains the first ten chapters from 'Lolita' (omitting for some reason the John Ray introduction), 'The Portable Nabokov' contains none of it, contenting itself rather with Nabokov's 'On a Book Entitled Lolita'. 'Vintage N.' closes with chapter twelve of Nabokov's autobiography 'Speak, Memory', while 'The Portable N.' starts off with excerpts from it. Noticably chapter twelve is not among them.

Nicely enough, 'Vintage N.' has an English translation of his one French short story 'Mademoiselle O'. On closer inspection I find whoever set out the reader placed the stories in chronological order (although there is no attempt to separate them into his Russian/English stories.) Overall I can't complain, the stories are fantastic, though I cannot help but wonder if maybe an introduction, or even an earlier chapter from 'Speak, Memory' might not have been useful in helping the general peruser learn something about the author.


Glamorama
Glamorama
by Bret Easton Ellis
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We'll slide down the surface of things, 1 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Glamorama (Paperback)
Perhaps Ellis's most accomplished piece, 'Glamorama' continues on in the vein of 'Rules of Attraction' and 'American Psycho'. Victor Ward (Victor Johnson from 'RoA') is a semi-famous model, the 'IT' boy of the moment, in the 1990s; but his whole world begins to unravel when he finds himself among a group of international model/terrorists. Unfortunately Victor doesn't have the common sense to extricate himself from it all, and soon his role is recast. The better you look, the more you see.


Fictions
Fictions
by Jorge Luis Borges
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 1 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Fictions (Paperback)
Borges is one of the few authors with the ability to let you know for sure that you are an idiot. You can read most of his stories in the time it takes to make a cup of tea, yet it may take you a lifetime to grasp anything about it.

This particular collection of Borges' fiction does nothing to ease you in gently. While your brain silently contemplates 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius' you find yourself mulling over the reality of this surreal tale. Does this country (later planet) exist? Of course not, but what about the group that dreamt it up? It ends with the conclusion that the lie will become truth. 'The Circular Ruins' also touches this concept of reality. The taciturn man from the South uses his dreams to create another man, his 'son' if you will. As he contemplates the plight of this being, and the horror it will experience when it discovers that it is not real, merely a projection of thought, he attempts to kill himself, only to discover that he too is nothing but another man's dream.

The book contains a number of labyrinthine tales: 'The Garden of the Forking Paths', 'The Shape of the Sword', 'The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero', and 'Death and the Compass'. These stories question identity and time. 'Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote' tells the tale of a man attempting to rewrite Cervantes' novel word for word. His version, albeit identical, is richer because he is Menard, not Cervantes.

Borges is a master of short fiction, he is able in a few pages to create a labyrinth deeper and richer than many authors can produce in a novel 700 pages long.


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