the usagi incidents


Lo's Diary

Summary: After much controversy, including Dmitri Nabokov's filing of a lawsuit alleging Vladimir Nabokov's LolitaAfrom Lo's point of viewAis revealed as a compelling novel in its own right. Choosing Lo's journal (which reveals characters' "real" names) as her vehicle, Italian writer Pera embroiders on Nabokov's Lolita (last name now Maze), fleshing out her troubled childhood. Her little brother is electrocuted ("his hair stands up straight, like Peter Porcupine") and her father takes to electrocuting lizards before he dies, too. The onset of puberty and awakening sexuality is at once destabilizing and a source of new power. When Humbert Guibert becomes the Mazes' tenant, Dolores triesAor so she pretends to herself at firstAto catch him to be her mother's (alternately "Plasticmom" and "Shitmom") new husband. A bitter mother/daughter competition ends with Charlotte dead and Lo taken sexual prisoner by her new stepfather. Pera convincingly describes Lo's confused state of mind as the illicit pair travel America for a year, Dolores saving herself from suicidal despair by accepting Humbert's bribes of candy, clothes and money, while reminding herself that someday "every memory will lose its thorns, and Humbert Guibert will be forgotten." The eloquent Nabokovian Humbert is here rather humorously reduced to a mundane oppressor, a dull and pretentious aging man. Also fun in Lo's version are her filled-in details of encounters with the pair's stalker, Nabokov's sinister Clare Quilty, here called Gerry Sue Filthy ("Filthy Sue"), who eventually offers Lo dubious refuge. Readers expecting echoes of Nabokov's subtle and elegant prose will be disappointed by the journal's authentic adolescent tone, but this Lolita, in her own words, manages to express quite wonderfully the complexities of her experience. The finished edition, which PW did not see, will contain a publisher's acknowledgment by Barney Rosset, a preface by Dmitri Nabokov and an afterword by Pera. 40,000 first printing; U.S. and Canadian author tour. (Nov.) FYI: Dmitri Nabokov will receive half the royalties from the English edition (which he will donate to PEN), and Pera will share her half with her Italian publisher, Marsilio. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Review: Anyone who knows me knows I love anything and everything Lolita. So imagine my surprise a few years ago when I found out that this little gem existed. It gives a voice and power to Dolores Haze that was never given in the original novel, and now Humbert Humbert has been turned into what Dolores was in the first novel: one-sided and one-dimentional. Even with all of the controversy, this novel, for what it is (a Lolita fan's take on what Dolores' story was), is excellent. If you've read Lolita and liked it, please go ahead and try this unofficial sequel/companion.

Final Review: A


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