The Laureate of Cruelty

The laureate of cruelty
I am re-reading Lolita. I sit on the subway, tongue poking out, underlining earnestly like a student of English as a Foreign Language. Nabokov has that effect. Can this be my workaday, ordering-coffee mother language in which he describes Annabel?

I was twelve or so when I first read Lolita, drawn in by the Sue Lyon cover on the paperback edition at home. She wore heart-shaped red glasses and sucked a lollipop and I thought she was terribly glamorous. Sue Lyon was not a nymphet, of course—she had breasts, for a start. The real Humbert would’ve had nothing to do with her. Nor with me. Childhood plainness is a blessing of sorts.

Here’s a good Martin Amis essay on Lolita.

Goodness! I just advocated Martin Amis. Don’t hold it against me. (Though I did once get him to sign Times Arrow in Dublin.)