In my last blog post, I reviewed Vladimir Nabokov’s most controversial work of fiction, Lolita. Prior to that, I reviewed Nabokov’s Pale Fire, and today I’ll be completing this three-book review series by covering Invitation to a Beheading. I recommend reading these reviews in order, because I’ll also be covering how the author’s past seeps into his writing and criticizing some of his common themes.

Content warning for mention of pedophilia.

Continue reading “Vladimir Nabokov Part Three – Invitation to a Beheading”

In my last post, I began reviewing three of the works of author Vladimir Nabokov, starting with Pale Fire. Today I’ll be reviewing the author’s best-known and most controversial work, Lolita. Grab a cup of something caffeinated and buckle up, because this is going to be a long one.

Content warning for pedophilia, sexual assault, child abuse, domestic abuse/domestic violence, gaslighting, misogyny, and racism. This review pulls no punches, and I’m not going to gloss over any of the ugliness espoused within this book.

It’s not surprising to me that despite his pedigree, writing career, and status in society, Vladimir Nabokov initially had a hard time finding a publisher willing to print this story. What does surprise me is the literary acclaim it garnered later, and the starry-eyed praise it received. Take this quote from the back cover of the copy I borrowed, for example:

“The only convincing love story of our century.” –Vanity Fair

I’d like to have a word with whoever approved using this quote to describe Nabokov’s ode to pedophilia– because, out of all the things Lolita is and isn’t, the thing it absolutely isn’t the most is a love story.

Perhaps the best lesson that can be taken from the accolades this story has received is just how deeply entrenched and socially normalized pedophilia is– and how badly that needs to change.

Continue reading “Vladimir Nabokov Part Two – Lolita”

Until recently, Vladimir Nabokov was not a name that was familiar to me. I’ve heard of Lolita and its ugly reputation, but I was surprised to find that the same author wrote numerous other novels. One of these was Pale Fire, an excerpt from which is used in K’s baseline test in Bladerunner 2049.

…and blood-black nothingness began to spin
A system of cells interlinked within
Cells interlinked within cells interlinked
Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct
Against the dark, a tall white fountain played.

–Vladimir Nabokov, “Pale Fire”

This excerpt alone is, to me, really good. It inspired me to pick up a copy of Pale Fire at my local library and read the rest.

Continue reading “Vladimir Nabokov Part One – Pale Fire”

“Faced with the exhausting task of building mechanical trees that produce the precious oxygen they breathe, the Greenleigh orphan slaves piece together clues about the existence of a possible forbidden paradise beyond The Wall. To find the truth, shatter the illusions, and free the children, Joy must entrust the aid of an unlikely ally who harbors dangerous secrets.”

Christina Rozelle’s The Treemakers has a lot going for it: it’s a story about a group of child slaves attempting to find their way out of captivity. They’re tough and spunky. They’re even likable at times (although my favorite character was Smudge, the mysterious guide the children meet partway through the story.) The world is strange and imaginative, and the author has a knack for thorough descriptions.

Borders: between dry land and flowing water, daylight and night, something haunts the river’s edge in the fading light.

The River’s Edge is an eerie modern horror story of the best kind: evocative of the mysteries we’ve always suspected, hidden in warnings to stay away from the water’s edge and mind the current and always be home before it gets late. It’s also the kind of story that will leave you feeling that the world has been made a better place.

Content warning for brief mention of stalking and MRA/incel ideology.

Quote from Sam Sykes on Twitter

I stumbled across this tweet the other day and found myself wondering, why shouldn’t I sneer at books that soared to popularity by appealing to the lowest common denominator? Why would I care what makes them tick?

If you’re the kind of author who doesn’t care about the quality of their work nearly as much as becoming famous, you may be thinking “I agree with this tweet! What’s the magic formula that makes inexplicably popular books so successful? And how can I apply it to my own writing?!” In that case, here’s the breakdown.

Continue reading “Tackling More Questionable Writing Advice”

In which I discuss a book I really wish I hadn’t read.

Content Warning: this post contains references to psychological trauma, gaslighting, physical abuse, and sexual assault.

"Kill it with fire!" The best way to unwant something.

I’ve never especially hated vampires. During the late 90s they became the new flavor of the month and lost any remaining potential shock value as villains or romantic interests. Although they’re overused and often annoying, I’ve never felt that the “kill it with fire” reaction was particularly justified– until now.

A book I just read has change my outlook, at least in regards to its specific fantasy world, and not for the reasons you might imagine. As far as appearance, they were your run-of-the-mill monsters.

But by the fifty percent mark, I wanted to drop napalm on the author’s entire fictional world. I wanted to nuke it from orbit. I wanted to watch every single one of these miserable creatures burn.

Continue reading “Kill It With Fire!”