Book Look - Lolita, by VLadimir Nabokov

What an infuriating literary experience. On the one hand, the loathsome premise of the novel was so off-putting, at times it was all I could do to force myself to read on. On the other hand, Nabakov’s dazzling narrative is like the literary equivalent of Cirque de Soliel – simultaneously brilliant, recondite, terrifying, manipulative, and mesmerizing. 

Talk about a book that defies characterization! Is it literature? (Those gorgeous passages of prose, those pretentiously long passages of French!) Philosophy? (Those Sartre references, those reflections on love and fate!) Social commentary? (Those rhapsodic odes to small-town America!) Satire? (Those deliciously spiteful jabs directed at psychology & education; that preposterously pedantic forward!) Farce? (That hilariously absurd denouement in which he finally brings to ground his imagined nemesis!) Tragedy? (Humbert Humbert as Oedipus Redux?) An exploration of deviant psychology? Pornography? An extended Joycianesque jest? In truth, the novel is all those things at once, which – I suppose – is precisely what makes it so infuriating. You want to hate the thing, but it’s just so damned brilliant.


A Thousand Words - Embracing Diversity in the Post-WWII Era

Check out this government nutrition poster from the post WWII era, featuring African-American and Asian children!  While I have to wonder if the artist had actually seen an African-American child (what's with that enormous upper lip? perhaps he was shooting for a young Louis Armstrong?), it bears remarking that our government was actively fostering diversity and linking it to the concept of a "Strong America." This message was also being echoed in government-sponsored radio advertising of the same era, which stressed the importance of embracing not just all races but also all religions, including Catholics and Jews. You wonder how it took 60 more years to get to where we are now.