I think that Gogol was a unique, and very special, author, who produced some of the most amazing works of literature that I have ever read. This book about Gogol left me slightly in two minds, but I found it interesting in parts.
I was expecting it to be a biography, but it is not really that. It does, however, contain a lot of biographical information, and a later section of the book is informative about the last ten years of his life, following the completion of 'Dead Souls Part 1'. I found that section very interesting, especially the background to why the work was never completed.
The majority of the book consists of a series of commentaries on some, but not all, of his works. Mainly, it deals with 'Dead Souls', 'The Government Inspector' (Play), and the short story, 'The Overcoat'. The book is quite short, about 140 pages, and much of these commentaries is taken up by actual extracts from the works in question, particularly 'Dead Souls'. Personally, I thought these extracts were somewhat overdone, and that it would be better just to re-read the books. There is also an element of 'spoiler alert required' because these sections do reveal plots to differing extents.
Nabokov makes the point that some of Gogol's earlier works are not too great. Personally, I think that some of his other short stories, especially the later ones, are of the high quality found in 'The Overcoat'. Stories like 'Diary of a Madman', 'The Quarrel' and 'The Nose' (possibly the maddest story in literature!) also demonstrate his amazing intuition, his artistry, and his zany sense of humour, which was at least 150 years ahead of his time. He always seems so modern, and so easy to read.