On choosing a new book
Choosing a new book is often easy. I'm interested in something and trot to the book shop at lunchtime, chat to the book seller and trot back to the office, holding a paper bag in my hand, an unknown and exciting new picture to hang in my day-to-day life. But at the moment I'm on holiday and Toppings of Bath are far away. All I brought with me are:
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- The Periodic Table, by Primo Levi
- A Man in Love, by Karl Ove Knausgaard
I'm only two books away from the first part of Knausgaard's My Struggle series, so that's not my next book. I was finding it difficult to decide between the other two, feeling captive and so contrarily un-enthusiastic about of Nabokov's and Levi's novels. But I noticed the price sticker at the back of Lolita: 10 euro from an Italian bookshop, and I remembered my wife reading it way back in, I don't know, any time between 2003-2006. We were on holiday then, in Parma, and it seems nicely symetric and vaguely romantic for me to read it here on the far end of the Iberian peninsular. Then we were staying in a hostel with our backpacks and walking everywhere. Now we've wheelie luggage, a rental car, my family's holiday home, and two children. But the words will evoke a similar waking dream in me in the next week or so as it did in her nearly a decade ago, when she wasn't my wife and the thought of children would have been absurd. But I'm reading it now as the proud owner of a sweet little three year old girl, and wondering how I'll feel about Humbert Humbert. Really I know nothing about the book, or rather, I have too many preconceptions and I want to know nothing, so I may read it clear and awake to what I'm told is a very profound and important piece of fiction.