September 25, 2008

BTT: Now For Something Completely Different

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What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?

And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

Usually, I stick with what I know, but being part of a book club often allows me to step out of my comfort zone. Last year, we picked Lolita. Actually, I can't remember if I had voted for it, but it was our selection, tough cookies.

I knew it was about a pedophile. I knew it was controversial. I knew it was a famous movie. That was about it. I was curious but I had some preconceived notions. I thought it would be sad, like most modern 'literature'. I thought it would be cliched.

What I read was so unexpected. The language was beautiful. It had funny moments. It was strange. It was disturbing. It was weird. But I loved it, which sounds creepy to say. Apparently, I'm not alone in my reluctance to love it, but the heart wants what it wants. I haven't read anything else from Nabokov since and I don't know if I want to. This was his masterpiece.

Another book I read with a group was The Eyre Affair. Now that was different. It was a book that made me say 'huh?' but once I got used to the weirdness, I really enjoyed it! It's a freaky little ride.

Oh and I just read Mrs Dalloway. Now that is waayyy different. I'll write more about that later.

24 comments :

  1. Lolita has some of the most beautiful writing in English produced in the last century. There's no shame in saying you loved it! :-)
    I had a hard time answering this question and actually totally changed my answer right as you were commenting. But yeah- Patterson, not so much! :-)

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  2. Oh, I forgot about Mrs. Dalloway when I answered! Yes, that should be included. Happy BTT!

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  3. It's very easy to fall in love with Lolita (the book) while being fully aware of precisely what you're enjoying. It's peculiar, to say the least, you're totally right.

    I'd say go out and read some more Nabokov. He's a brilliant writer - I took a class on him in college.

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  4. I was already planning on reading Lolita (eventually) but a few people's answers now have me even more intrigued. My BTT is up.

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  5. I haven't read Nabokov. I go back and forth on whether I want to or not. I probably will some day.

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  6. Man, I wouldn't even know what to answer for this. I try to break out of my comfort zone from time to time anyway...

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  7. I was also very surprised with Lolita, especially with the fact that it was funny! I imagined it to be very sombre and dark.

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  8. I'm right there with you. Nabokov is really a genius to be able to draw his reader into such an odd, dysfunctional situation with humor and sympathy to some extent. Humbert really was a multi-dimensional character--very surprisingly human.

    I've read one more of Nabokov's--Pnin. It was much shorter and more comical. Quiety heartbreaking, though. I still want to read Pale Fire and Invitation to a Beheading. Oh, and The Eye! Almost everything, in other words. lol

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  9. I haven't read Lolita, but I really want to...and I feel weird saying that, knowing what it's about!

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  10. I loved Lolita, too, but it's really different from his other books. I almost think of it as being by a different writer.

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  11. Mrs. Dolloway? Really? I've never read it but based on everything I've heard of it, I wouldn't have thought it was different. I can't wait to hear your post on it!

    I haven't read Lolita yet (that TBR list, again), The Eyre Affair is definitely bonkers! In a good way. =)

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  12. Your not the only one to say the Eyre Affair. I saw on another blog. I said that Slaughterhouse 5 wins for weirdest book of year for me.

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  13. I loved Lolita too (despite Pale Fire) but felt as though I should be bathing with lye soap and a scrubbing brush _ while loving the language. It's a strange experience, reading Lolita.

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  14. Mrs. Dalloway is one of my favorite books - I'm really EAGER to read your thoughts on it.

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  15. I haven't read any of those, but they do sound interesting.

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  16. I loved the writing, but not the story of Lolita.

    I'm surprised to see Mrs. Dalloway listed. I'm looking forward to your review.

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  17. Lolita is one of my favorite books. I loved Nabakov's writing.

    I also enjoyed The Eyre Affair and the other books in that series.

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  18. Nabokov is a master. Have you read any of his short stories? I like them better than Lolita. I haven't tried to read any of his other novels yet.

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  19. Lolita has long been on my to-be-read list. Or at least listen to my Police album... :-)

    I adore The Erye Affair.

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  20. Thanks for an interesting review. It's a book I've never really considered reading, but you've made me rethink that position... and I love that you can combine Lolita and Monty Python in a single post. Nice job!

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  21. Thanks for all your responses! I have been convinced to look for more Nabokov. I hope I've convinced a few to give Lolita a read too.

    And everyone interested in my thoughts on Mrs Dalloway- my post is up.

    See you next BTT!

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  22. That's too funny! I picked The Eyre Affair also as a different book that I'd read.

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  23. Oh, Chris, you must read more Nabokov. I havne't read Lolita (!) but I adore his short stories. They're amazing.

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  24. I think The Man Who Was Thursday by Chesterton and Mrs. Dalloway are my top picks. I gave up on both of them. Just too "out there" for me. :)

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