Read Nabokov's Dozen by Vladimir Nabokov Online

nabokov-s-dozen

In this collection of stories by the author of Lolita, subjects described include first love, reminiscence, and the depiction of life in Russia, Europe and the United States....

Title : Nabokov's Dozen
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140181678
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Nabokov's Dozen Reviews

  • Jim Fonseca
    2019-05-16 16:34

    We all know Nabokov from works such as Lolita and Speak, Memory, but how is he as a short story writer? Excellent of course, although anytime you are presented with 13 stories your reaction to some will be “mixed.” And this collection is a mixed bag in style and quality with short stories, essays, memoirs. One piece, “Lance,” is a work of science fiction about a space traveler. “Cloud, Castle, Lake” is Kafkaesque: a man wins a train trip excursion through Germany and the other travelers bully and torment him. In “Spring in Fialta” a man and a woman keep running into each other over the years in various capitals of Europe. This is a haunting story with a tragic ending based on the theme of “…what was the purpose of fate in bringing us constantly together.” Nabokov scatters reflections upon writing in the stories. Here’s one I liked from “Spring in Fialta:” “Having mastered the art of verbal invention to perfection, he particularly prided himself on being a writer; personally I could never understand what was the good of thinking up books, of penning things that had not really happened in some way or other…” In “Mademoiselle O,” a piece in homage to his nanny, he has a passage about how when he “lends” a real item from his past to a character in his writings, it starts to fade in importance from his own life and becomes more identified with its fictional use. Some things never change. “That in Aleppo Once…” has a passage about refugees, two women and a child, trying to dig a grave with a stick and their hands to bury the father or grandfather who had been accompanying them. There are butterflies of course; “The Aurelian” is a tragic story of a man who owns a shop for butterfly collectors and spends his entire life dreaming of an exotic trip to collect specimens.These pieces are from the late 1930’s to the late 1950’s when the author was in Berlin and Paris, then Boston (Wellesley College) and then Ithaca (Cornell). As always with Nabokov, you need your dictionary at hand or on-line. For example within a few pages I looked up ecchymotic, susurrus and entoptic. Quite a mixture, but all in all, good stories, well worth reading.

  • F
    2019-04-24 18:33

    Liked some more than others.

  • Annelies
    2019-05-09 18:41

    Got the taste for his books now. Ready to read more by Nabokov.

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-21 15:44

    I am fond of it because I feel it in the hollow of those violaceous syllables the sweet dark dampness of the most rumpled of small flowers, and because the alto like name of a lovely Crimean town is echoed by its viola; and also because because there is something in the very somnolence of its humid Lent that especially anoints one's soul. With this story, he made me love the springtime in Fialta. Now I see why critics have argued that this story is Nabokov's lament on a lost love, an extramarital affair he had, or an ode to Russia. But really, why make assumptions because an author chooses to tell a story using the first-person, 'I?'The pulse of the distant sea, panting in the mist…the jealous green of bottle glass bristling along the top of a wall.This is all love language. Nabokov's control of prose is stunning, as usual. Though some of these short stories are not what you would expect from an average short-story collection, one only has to think of Lolita to be reminded that Nabokov never writes what is expected.The stories are dense but opulent; with themes of loneliness, sadness, exile, memory, and self-struggle present. The characters' innermost thoughts are aggrandized, becoming a part of the setting, the story, the place. Melancholy is paired with happiness and relief in the most unusual ways.There is also sex in its subtle, literary form: Her eyes rested on the lower part of my face as if she were lip reading, and after a moment of reflection, she turned and rapidly swaying on slender ankles led me along the sea-blue carpeted passage.Nabokov places no limitations on his female characters. Nina is spunky and carefree, and yet you see the struggle that both characters must face because they are being--well, too carefree.I did not yet realize the presence of the growing morbid pathos which was to embitter so my subsequent meetings with Nina, I was probably quite as collected and carefree as she was…Nina is a breath of fresh air. She was beautiful, flawed, good, kind, and selfish. All those things and more that you want to see in a realistic female character. So much so, that the main character saw her as a friend and lover, unable to properly categorize her; unable to be more, yet unwilling to be less: Again and again she hurriedly appeared in the margins of my life, without influencing in the least its basic text.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-27 10:37

    More than anything else, Nabokov writes about words. His best work balances gracefully the referential and other functions of language, so that the text is both a world in itself (with puns, ironies, bot mots, and so on) and a window to the fictional world it describes (with characters, feelings, other ironies, and the like).That's an oversimplification, I know, but the point is this: in reading these stories, I felt like the text was opaque. Each piece was lovely in itself, but that very loveliness obscured its "point." The thing made a better door than window.Once in a while a passage would resolve itself into a unit of meaning, and invariably that meaning was profoundly beautiful (hence the three stars). But then it would fade as suddenly as it had appeared, technical prowess replacing aesthetic vision as the author's most salient characteristic. (Fans of Classical music, think of a cadenza in a Mozart concerto).Overall, then, while I imagine that annotating this book would be a delightful exercise, reading it was something else altogether.

  • Mohamed Abdel Mohsen
    2019-05-07 16:47

    Though I found it a little bit hard for me maybe cause' I'm not that into drama this much, but it was fun to read and to explore Nabokov's world. Maybe I'd give it another shot some other time.

  • Perry Whitford
    2019-05-21 14:40

    I half-expected a Nabokovian dozen to contain one less than the norm, but no, I did the old trickster a disservice - like a baker's round dozen, this collection of assorted short stories contains a generous thirteen of the things.The first of them, the tale of a spasmodic affair of stolen moments between two married Russian exiles across twelve years and called 'Spring in Fialta' is simply wonderful, full of the idiosyncratically caressing prose that only Nabokov can conjure up. In sporting parlance, it's worth the price of admittance on its own.In 'A Forgotten Poet' the reputation of a rustic wordsmith thought dead for fifty years is resurrected by the dubious revisionism of a new, revolutionary generation, only for the celebrations to be rendered ridiculous when he turns up again out of the blue. If it is him.'Signs and Symbols', seemingly about an old couple visiting their paranoid son in a sanitarium, is no doubt much cleverer in design than I could work out, but I enjoyed it anyway. Likewise 'Time and Ebb' which could almost be considered a science fiction story, and contains this exceptional description of a child's impression of his mother, who died when he was still an infant:'I can only recall her as a vague patch of delicious lachrymal warmth just beyond the limit of iconographical memory.'Somewhat incredibly (to me), 'Lance' is also a science fiction story, albeit 'strictly an amateur performance, with quite casual stage properties and a minimum of scenery'.'That in Aleppo once...' and 'Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster' in turn focus on two of Nabakov's constant themes - the first delusion, the second the idea of the 'double'. I liked the story of a madman who or may not have been married to a madwoman for a short while, but the story of Siamese twins conjoined at the navel was a little too obvious for me.Of the rest, two of them later formed part of his autobiography, 'Speak, Memory'. 'First Love' tells of exactly that, while 'Mademoiselle O' is about the Swiss governess he and his brother had for several years. The writing of these two pieces appear more sincere than his usual way, which you would expect, but could he really recall so vividly such detailed scenes experienced through five year old eyes? Who cares, they are so exquisite.A final word for his closing statement in the Bibliographical Note at the end of my edition. He confirms that the above two stories are true to life, then concludes:'As to the rest, I am no more guilty of imitating 'real life' than 'real life' is responsible for plagiarizing me.'Well said, Vlad.

  • Martin
    2019-05-07 16:27

    I'm not a guy who plays favourites. Music, art and everything else, my preferences change with my mood and the weather. Ask who my favourite author is though and the answer will be, every time, Vladimir Nabokov.Many of the short stories in this book don't have particularly gripping plots, but at this length they don't really need to. Instead, they exhibit everything that made Nabokov an unparalleled writer; vivid descriptions of people, places, and things which make them spring to life in the reader's imagination, sweeping flourishes that border on poetry, and that understated but very deliberate comedic tonic to bitter situations. The highlight of the set for me was Spring In Fialta, a beautiful, sad reflection on the relationship between two people who are more than friends but less than lovers.

  • Jeffrey
    2019-04-28 17:45

    Nabokov was a writer's writer; a grand master of the written word. Nowhere else have I seen such concentrated genius (John Banville comes close). I had to cut my reading speed in half to work through the density of this writing; every word perfectly chosen - every scene and character imaginatively described with incredibly insightful and telling detail. As for plot, the author conjures a series of scenes rather than telling a story, though a story does emerge. Of course I liked some of the stories more than others; my favorites were Spring in Fialta and The Aurelian. For glimpses of old Russia I liked A Forgotten Poet, and for the Stalinist era, The Assistant Producer. For hilarious character sketches, Conversation Piece takes the prize. In short, I found nearly all of the stories richly rewarding.

  • Rebecka
    2019-04-30 11:27

    This collection of short stories is really a collection of masterpieces. So many short stories by other authors are either boring or overly dramatic and lacking in depth. These are all perfect. Every story has its reason for existing, they are all important no matter what topic they focus on, and they are all very impressive. I really love Nabokov for focusing on how horrible human beings are (that would be the red thread of this volume), and for showing it in so many different ways. He is constantly touching on the same topic, but he never writes the same story twice.The downside would be that Nabokov is damned hard to read in Russian.

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-17 11:53

    My least favorite Nabokov so far. It's not too surprising; I tend to prefer novels to short stories, and these didn't change my mind. This was one of those books where it seemed to gum up my reading: once I'd started it, I wasn't really motivated to keep reading, but I felt guilty not reading it, so I inched along and generally didn't read very much of anything until I finished it unenthusiastically. Now I can read as voraciously as I want again!

  • Kirsty Hughes
    2019-05-15 16:52

    So heavy with words. Which sounds awful coming from someone who claims to love reading, but seriously. This short story has (I think) EIGHT flashbacks. I don't know. It was just too much for me to get into without enough intrigue.

  • Adam
    2019-04-28 14:36

    Oh man. I gave both Pale Fire and Lolita five stars. However, this is a collection of what must be Vladimir Nabokov's worst stories ever. Stay away.

  • Belinda
    2019-05-20 16:48

    I hate to say it, but this collection left me cold. Nabokov's verbosity served great purpose in the novels of his I've read (and adored), but most of these brief narratives buckle under the verbiage.

  • Vel Veeter
    2019-04-25 17:40

    Nabokov wrote a ton. He lost the Nobel Prize in a weird year where two judges essentially gave it to each other, but he is easily one of if not the most important and impressive writers of the 20th century, if not ever. He’s mostly known for Lolita of course, which you should read immediately, and like a lot of author’s whose most (in)famous book overshadows a lot of his career, his other great books and stories get overlooked. He wrote supremely in two very different language and probably could have written in two more. He translated his own work, his translated other Russian work, and he helped to create the underground literary book trade known as “samizdat” in the Soviet and produced one of the top five books secretly traded books (Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita and Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago notwithstanding…alongside the last book I reviewed Life and Fate among countless others).So here’s his short fiction. I will blurb each story. These particular stories were primarily written in English.“The Aurelian” A weird little story about a butterfly collector that helps to establish and emphasize the author’s obsession with the insect. It’s also a nice tale about obsession and legacy.2) “Spring in Fialta” The title story of the other name for this collection. This details a springtime in the riviera city of Fialta, dealing with memory and its various troubles.3) “Cloud, Castle Lake” A funny story about a Russian expat who takes a trip to one of the inner European lakes. Probably details parts or at least highlights the discomfort and restlessness of a cultural refugee who can’t quote escape that category.4) “Mademoiselle O” My favorite of the stories in the collection. This is a weird little story about an older writer looking back on a figure from his youth and realizing that in both memory and memorializing someone ancillary to your life in fiction, you strip them of their depth.5) “The Assistant Producer” This is about a theater producer narrated a part of his life. The ecstatic part of Nabokov’s writing…where it feels breathless and needlessly and effortlessly brilliant is on display.6) “That In Aleppo Once…” Every time I saw Gary Johnson’s dumb mug on tv saying “And What is Aleppo?” I thought of this story. More and more about love and memory and loss.7) “A Forgotten Poet” The story of a mild literary obsession growing around a lost poet and what happens when he returns and shatters the mythos.8) “Time and Ebb” A strange kind of almost sci fi or magical realist tale posed as a memoir.9) “Conversation Piece 1945″ An imagining of the realizations of the logical extensions of antisemitism after the fact. A horror about wishing for something dreadful and it coming true.10)”Signs and Symbols” The strongest piece, the one that’s in other books. A small mediation on the loss of someone who is still living and dealing with that lost simultaneous with still maintaining their care.11) “First Love” Every Russian writer has a story called first love. This is his.12) “Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster” A mediation on being a conjoined twin and realizing that your difference from the mainstream becomes their only way of understanding you.13) “Lance” Another pseudo meditation on time. A play on the Lancelot myth.

  • Konstantin
    2019-05-10 12:52

    [rating = B+]I just love Nabokov. There is something to be said about his sense of style and his keen eye. Maybe, he can sometimes (seem) to go a bit too far, but really, in the scheme of the whole story, it is quite necessary. Most of the 13 were wonderful; especially "Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster", "Mademoiselle O", "Conversation Piece, 1945", and "Cloud, Castle, Lake". These particular stories range with a universal truth that was brought into existence by careful and witty observation of human existence (sometimes stemming from his own life). At times, unfortunately, Nabokov actually bored me, but only with the last story "Lance", which I found quite peculiar and difficult to follow. Truly, Nabokov has invented a new sort of storytelling. He is personal and smart combined with a realism that comes from his own experience. Also, he intrudes upon the narration, yet in the most unobtrusive and sly way possible. I always expect the most from him, and he delivers almost 100 percent. If one is tired of Nabokov, one is tired of reading!

  • Jiří Böhm
    2019-05-05 13:47

    Setkání s Nabokovem po bezmála 20 letech. A jsem rád, že nadšení z četby jeho knih či povídek je stále stejné. Je to slast. Podle mě je Nabokov jeden z nejlepších spisovatelů minimálně 20.století. Jeho popisy zdánlivě nudných okamžiků života, prvních emocinálních vzrušení, lidských charakterů - závidím mu jeho imaginaci a schopnost převést ji do slov a vět. Navíc umí skvěle vystihnout jakýsi intelektuální, sociální i politický kvas, který byl od začátku 20.století přítomný jak v tehdy carském Rusku, tak v poválečném Německu či USA. Takže teď přemýšlím, na jakou knihu se vrhnu jako další!

  • Nick
    2019-05-08 14:44

    What a master. Haunting, evocative stories. His descriptions are more vivid than life. Other writers photograph a scene, Nabakov paints it. My favorites were Signs and Symbols; Cloud, Castle, Lake; That in Aleppo Once...; and Madamoiselle O.

  • Simon
    2019-05-08 11:27

    Ultima Thule is probably the worst thing I've read from Nabokov, the embodiment of the quote "They were so preocuppied with the fact that they could, that they didn't stop to think if they should".

  • Courteney Fisher
    2019-05-03 16:30

    Loved this. He's ones of my favourite writers. This is a beautiful short story about chance encounters and adultery. The descriptions packed into this story were just beautiful

  • Zeynep K
    2019-05-18 16:38

    "but then what should i have done with you, nina? how should i have disposed of the store of sadness that had gradually accumulated as a result of our seemingly carefree, but really hopeless meetings?" 22"... the incalculable amount of tenderness contained in the world; of the fate of this tenderness, which is either crushed, or wasted, or transformed into madness; of neglected children humming to themselves in unswept corners; of beautiful weeds that cannot hide from the farmer and helplessly have to watch the shadow of this simian stoop leave mangled flowers in it's wake, as the monstrous darkness approaches." 57"we have a saying in russian: vsevo dvoe i est; smert' da sovest'- which may be rendered thus: there are only two things that really exist, one's death and one's conscience. the lovely thing about humanity is that at times one may be unaware of doing right, but one is always aware of doing wrong." 70"... one of those vestibule chairs which are doomed to accommodate things, not people." 72"... vasili ivanovich even pressed his hand to his heart, as if to see whether his heart was there in order to give it away." 95"... begged me to let him go, insisted that he could not continue, that he had not the strength to belong to mankind any longer. of course, i let him go." 96"but just now i am not a poet. i come to you like that gushing lady in chekhov who was dying to be described." 113"... one night, as i was seeing her home, something quaint she had said made me stoop with a laugh and lightly kiss her on the hair - and of course we all know of that blinding blast which is caused by merely picking up a small doll from the floor of a carefully abandoned house ..." 114"i was under the strange delusion that first i must find out every detail, reconstruct every minute, and only then decide whether i could bear it." 118"... answering my unprintable questions in a breathless whisper or trying with a pitiful smile to wriggle into the semi-security of irrelevant commentaries, and i crushing and crushing the mad molar till my jaw almost burst with pain, a flaming pain which seemed somehow preferable to the dull, humming ache of humble endurance." 119"... life had been real before, life will be real from now on, i hope. not tomorrow, though. perhaps after tomorrow." 122 "... we lived in the era of identification and tabulation; saw the personalities of men and things in terms of names and nicknames and did not believe in the existence of anything that was nameless." 128"now the coloured pencil in more detail. ... the blue one drew a simple line across the page - and the horizon of all seas was there." 146"she spent all her life in feeling miserable; this misery was her native element; its fluctuations, its varying depths, alone gave her the impression of moving and living. what bothers me is that a sense of misery, and nothing else, is not enough to make permanent soul." 158"an air of gravity, of uncomfortable concentration (all thought is uncomfortable, and young thought especially so), is his usual expression..." 164"when it comes to exploring a celestial body his is the satisfaction of a passionate desire to feel with his own fingers, to stroke and inspect, and smile at, and inhale, and stroke again - with that same smile of nameless, moaning, melting pleasure - the never-before-touched matter of which the celestial object is made. ... he may be twenty or he ma be eighty-five but without that tingle there is no science. and of that stuff lance is made." 171

  • Siv30
    2019-04-29 10:50

    לפעמים החיים הם כמיהה אחת ארוכה לרגע אחד. לנקודה. בכל יום, כשאנו פוקחים עיניים, אנו בעצם מתכווננים ומתכוננים לרגע הזה. חיים עבור אותה נקודה, במלוא היכולת והכוונה, וכשהרגע מגיע, אנחנו פתאום מגלים שבעצם התממשותו השאירה אותנו מרוקנים, חסרים את המוטיבציה שהניעה אותנו לקום בבוקר. בסיפורים הקצרים של נאבוקוב, הרגע הזה כל כך שואב את הדמויות שהן פשוט מתות. פעם אחר פעם מצאתי עצמי מופתעת, גם כשזיהיתי את התבנית שחותרת תחת הרצון לחיים של הדמויות נשארתי להתחבט עם הלמה, שאף פעם אינו ברור ופשטני כמו שאני מנסה להציג כאן. נאבוקוב מעמיד מראה על גרמניה שלפני המלחמה: רצונות לא ממומשים, דיכוי כלכלי, אלימות, חוסר סבלנות, אפרוריות, כאב של חברה (כאורגן) קרועה, פגועה, חבולה, המתענה לחיים אחרים טובים ושלמים יותר. הפרטים משלימים את הפאזל השלם ומהווים תמונה שלמה. באופן אבסורדי הספר נקרא ;"תריסר רוסי", מעין התרסה בולטת ומנגידה בין התוכן (שרובו ככולו עוסק בגרמניה או ברוסים שהיגרו לגרמניה או ביחסים שבין דמויות גרמניות לרוסיות) למהות, המעמידה את התרבות הרוסית שכביכול יציבה מול זו הגרמנית המעורערת, הרודפת אחר "פרפרים" של חופש וחלומות בלתי מציאותיים. למעשה גם התרבות הרוסית מאבדת את האחיזה ומתערערת. הערכים הישנים מתפוררים ואינם יכולים לשמש מנוף לחיים פוריים ומאושרים במערב. 2 סיפורים אהבתי במיוחד בקובץ: "פילגראם", ו"חדל אישים". שניהם עומדים על גבול התעתוע והדמיון ומדגימים את האובדן הטוטאלי: "למען האושר הזה אסף פרוטה לפרוטה, אבל היה כמי שמעמיד ספל תחת קילוח של נוזל יקר ערך, המטפטף טיפין - טיפין, ואך ייאסף מעט בספל, וכבר נשמט זה מן היד: הכל נשפך, ויש להתחיל מבראשית. הוא נשא אשה, מקווה לנדוניה נאה, אך כעבור שבוע מת חותנו, ולא הניח אחריו חובות..." (פילגראם, 12) נאבוקוב אינו פשוט לקריאה. השפה שלו מלאה דימויים שלעיתים לא מתפענחים אלא לאחר קריאה של מספר סיפורים. נדרשת מהקורא הכרה מינימאלית של התקופה וריכוז לפרטים שמרכיבים את התמונה. מאידך מצאתי בחלק מהסיפורים הקצרים עונג מפתיע ווירטואוזיות לשמה. "תריסר רוסי", ולאדימיר נאבוקוב הספריה החדשה, 1994, 157 עמ` תרגום נילי מירסקי

  • Taymara Jagmohan
    2019-05-15 18:26

    Absolutely beautiful with its long sentences, almost jaunty in contexts, but always always so beautiful and rich! : )It created a gusto in my heart that marched me quite humanely around the back-tracks of love's canthus. A meeting place I cannot tell you about, but this is a warm, short and delightful read. Those hopeless meetings. Are they truly hopeless? Not at all comrade. Not at all. We all have our days to pick our lessons from, because they are always happening around us, and it seems like a thrill every time to see and believe in the newness of salubrious teachings!Ardent in touch, and lively in causes.Lovely'the sea, its salt drowned in a solution of rain, is less glaucous than gray with waves too sluggish to break into foam.' hahah! :DNina died, after telling of her promises to not love, even after those meaningful-hopeless meetings. Victor loved her, for all his timings, but she didn't. She cared much more for more than its causes. Victor still loved her, but she never returned it genuinely. It is strange how we humans play with each others' hearts, for no reason at all! none! I hope God never gives me the chance to pull prank on anyone's heart, ever.Beautiful writing.Love,Taymara.

  • Keiren Mac
    2019-04-22 12:34

    I haven't written a review before but think this warrants an exception. This short story showcases all the best things that can be done with the English language. It made me constantly think of Stephen Fry's talk about loving language. The way the words are placed together, the movements required of your tongue to enjoy the sensuous experience of Nabokov's sentences. It seemed that each one was crafted with the care of a most excellent word-smith. The story itself was rich in detail though avoided anything extraneous. You see the ending from a mile away, but he drops it on you so suddenly with a bait and switch that you're left a little speechless.

  • Chitra Ratnaphongsa
    2019-04-23 12:45

    In spite of him using the term mockingly in the story, I do think that Nabokov really is a "Weaver of Words". But his woven words are never just shiny and mellifluous, they are instead always in service of the story, propelling its heart to pierce the core of your being so the story will always stay with you and haunt you until it eventually becomes a part of you. Spring In Fialta may begin innocently enough, but beware, it is only when you reached the last sentences - far too late - that you realize how moved and changed you have become because of it. But all of this is fairly natural, even expected, for Nabokov is, above and beyond everything else, a master storyteller.

  • Jay Gabler
    2019-05-11 18:23

    'A great writer is among us,' declares the Milwaukee Journal on the cover of this Popular Library paperback. Damn those Badgers, they got it right. Nabokov could write about his childhood crayon set and it would seem profound. (In fact, he does. And it does.)The sentences that most resonated with me: 'All my life I have been a poor go-to-sleeper. No matter how great my weariness, the wrench of parting with consciousness is unspeakably repulsive to me. I loathe Somnus, that black-masked headman binding me to the block.'

  • Patti
    2019-05-18 11:46

    I just love Nabakov's command of prose. He can take the smallest action and describe it in such detail that you are reminded of doing those things, and being in those places yourself, and feeling exactly the same way. These short stories were all well written and very diverse, my favorites were "The Aurelian", "Signs and Symbols", "That in Aleppo Once...", and "Mademoiselle O".

  • Laura Zeng
    2019-04-22 15:25

    "Spring in Fialta" was good, as was "The Aurelian" and "Cloud, Castle, Lake", but I found a lot of these to be dull, and almost willfully abstruse in comparison to his better stuff. I understand that obscurity and complexity is a staple of his works, but I found some of these to be a little bit over the top.

  • Ashley Memory
    2019-04-25 13:50

    Every aspiring short story writer should read this gem. It's a beautiful story with a flawless execution. How someone with a native language other than English could have written this is more proof of Nabokov's towering genius.

  • Em
    2019-04-24 18:44

    Normally I hate short stories. It takes an absolute master for the form for me to actually want to read them; for me to become engrossed in the intimate details and miniature world established in only a few pages. That's Nabokov.