“It’s just so well written!”

is my go-to response for why I’m currently reading Lolita. It is a classic, yes, but there is absolutely no denying that it is one creepy novel. I am avoiding carrying it around to classes like I usually do with books (in case I get there early, we get a break, I might possibly have a 5 to 10 minute window to indulge my pathological reading obsession) so people don’t ask stupid questions.

Because yeah, for the uninitiated, Lolita is definitely written from the perspective of a solipsistic pedophile trying to rationalize his desires and actions. Lolita herself is the narrator’s 12-year-old obsession, a precocious, angry little girl whose flippant comments belie the loneliness and pain she feels. Reading scenes between the two main characters feels icky and wrong.

But dear readers, this book! I hesitate to recommend it because it might get me put on a government watch list, but the writing! Vladimir  Nabokov (who in interviews revealed his disgust with his own character) creates the ultimate unreliable narrator, while simultaneously hinting at the real state of the world. The rich imagery, full of descriptions of the French Riviera and the rougher facets of the American landscape, immerses the reader in its tangible world. And then there are puns, alliterations, allusions, metaphors, flashbacks, asides! Reading Lolita is like watching an Olympic gymnast make her death-defying stunts look easy. Nabokov, not even a native speaker, is clearly a master of the English language.

So when I say “It’s just so well written!” I mean it this time, not as the oft-repeated  justification of a girl who reads during meals because she can’t fit it anywhere else in her life. Lolita is truly a well-written piece of literature. So read it, if you can, though I understand if you don’t want to show anyone.