Monday, December 12, 2011

burning a whole stack of them in the pale fire of the incinerator

There was so much frost this morning that when I first glanced out the bedroom window, I thought it had snowed during the night. The lawn, the parking strip and the lids of the curbside recycling bins were all white, glowing hazily under the streetlamp. Alas, no snow. Not yet. It was also warmer than I thought it would be. I walked down the hill and only thought to put on my gloves when I arrived at the bus stop and began to wait for an express coach. Along the way I’d glanced up to see the moon setting in the west, clear and hard white like bone against the indigo sky. A heron passed overhead, huge and silent and improbable, his long legs trailing behind him, his wings beating with slow deliberation. What’s he doing up at that hour? The fishes must all be asleep still, deep down in the riverbed.

I am reading, again, Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire, which book features my favorite of Nabokov’s unreliable narrators, Charles Kinbote. I’d forgotten how much fun Kinbote’s madness is, and how Nabokov lets that madness crack through the academic fa├žade of Kinbote’s narrative. I’ve forgotten much about this book, I’m sure. Only a few pages in, I can tell you that the prose is wonderful ("ecstatic" is the word used in Updike’s back cover blurb) and the humor is pure Nabokov: the author and the reader share jokes that the narrator isn’t in on. What fun there is in store for me.

Last night Mighty Reader and I watched "It’s a Wonderful Life." Jimmy Stewart was a fabulous actor. I always forget that and I’m always surprised, year after year. What any of this has to do with anything else in this mess of an essay, I’ve no idea.


  1. Sounds like a beautiful morning, Scott. I finished Hunger Games this weekend and am now reading some Tolstoy to...I don't know...purify my brain again or something.

  2. It was a fine morning. But somehow I ended up at the office. Damn.

    Tolstoy: rinse and repeat!

    I'm going to read a lot of Nabokov and Chekhov and Shakespeare in 2012. We'll see what happens to my brain.

  3. Davin is right - it does sound like a beautiful morning! I keep hoping it doesn't snow, but a part of me really wants it to.

    Davin, get on chat sometime, puhhhlease. I'm dying to know what you thought of The Hunger Games and if I should read it or not.