so i got this brilliant idea to listen to audio books at work when i processing checks and things like that that are becoming more physical than mental. mechanical. and so i got lolita. in ten hours. read directly into my brain by jeremy irons.
ask pete. it severely messed me up. i’m going to say: this book is MORE DISTURBING THAN AMERICAN PSYCHO. okay, american psycho out weirds it, out gruesomes it, sure. but nothing about lolita is sarcastic. it’s brilliant, i’m not saying it’s not brilliant. it is totally brilliant. but i feel like i missed something. like i have always thought of the idea of lolita as something sort of hot. i mean, isn’t that how it exists in the ether? lolita. you say that and you see the movie cover. a cute girl in a cute bathing suit, looking over her sunglasses. i guess i should have read this book, not listened to it, and read it in an english class, so i could know how i am supposed to feel about it and how other people feel about it, instead of having the voice of jeremy-irons-as-pedophile in my head for two days. but i want to submit that everyone should read this book and see just how not hot it is. not that there aren’t sort of hot-ish parts. i mean, you are in this dude’s brain and to him, the sexiest thing in the universe is a 12 year old girl. he has all the power, over lolita and over the reader, and you believe him a little bit, for awhile. he is HARMLESS. she is teasing him. it is romantic. it is hot. okay, reverse that. you believe him a lot.
but nabokov is a total genius people! this guy, humbert humbert, is the definition of unreliable narrator. he’ll say things like, “oh then unfortunately i had a breakdown and was in the sanatorium for awhile,” as if he is saying, “i went to the store because i ran out of milk.” AND IT SEEMS REASONABLE. at one point you realize you are sort of glad a woman was killed by a car and humbert and lolita could run off together. but then, oh, hour 6? i don’t know when it happens but you begin to realize that you just agreed to kidnapping and rape and are about to agree to murder. maybe i have a problem but last night i finished the book on tape, took a shower, went to bed, and started sobbing.
i guess what is so distressing about this story is the realism of the rationalization and the reality of the situation. there are people, a lot of people, in the world who do evil things and see themselves as heroes. this is important. there are no bad guys. everyone is a hero or a victim. so instead of leaving the book thinking, “let’s strengthen our sex offender laws,” you just like, start crying.
(side note- i am writing this in a cafe with my friend marisa and this kid from my college just walked by and i ran out to say hi to him but then forgot his name. also, this kid i saw was like HUGELY COOL at lewis & clark and has been nice to me approx one time and i am sure thinks i am madly in love with him which isn’t exactly helped by me sprinting out of a cafe to awkwardly say hi to him. why do i still think this guy is a celebrity because he was in a lame band in college? why did i have the urge to prove how cool i now i am to him? seriously, for a second, in between the uncomfortable hug and me saying, “well, i guess i’ll let you cross the street now”, i had the DISTINCT URGE to tell him i have a boyfriend or a book getting published. thank god i didn’t. i can stay hero for awhile.)
anyway, lolita. jesus. i still think this audio book idea is genius but maybe i need to take more breaks from it. i just get so involved. it’s like this project i am working on now, writing about africa. i get so involved and i start to feel horribly fat and ugly. i’m pretty sure my skin is acting up, just from me mentally getting back into africa. it’s fucked up. also, i have terrible skin.