the lost man chronicles

cheap glee

N…naba, nabo, Nabokov!

I had briskly walked the first eight blocks. At 18th I broke into a lithe sprint which carried me down Park until I reached The Strand.

Usually the information desk clerk gives you specific directions on where to find what you are looking for, but this time the sentinel rolled his eyes up at me and asked rather disdainfully, "May I help you?" My arrival apparently interrupted a happy and high-pitched conversation about postcards, and thus my inquiry was met with a begrudged and curt response.

"If we have it, it will be in the fiction section in the back," he said and smiled again at his partner who was standing there waiting with his hand poised impatiently upon his hip.

Thus, I moved swiftly down the aisles unsure if the light perspiration on my brow would soon be redeemed.

The sign read "NOPQ" to the right. I squeezed past the group of three or four lounging employees who were chatting and crowding about the narrow opening to the fiction shelves. Olw…P…Nu…apparently, I was one column shy of where I was supposed to go, and so I had step back over the man blocking my passage and spin about the corner.

And there, in the center of the case, four rows down was ADA. She was dressed in black and had big yellow and green block letters. The spine made a large i of the vertically written NABOKOV and a perpendicular ADA serving as the dot across the top. The cover read "A New Novel by the Author of LOLITA."

The book was covered in library plastic and was in great shape, no dog ears, no apparent stains, and a quick sputter of the pages indicated none were missing. It was a heavy book, seemingly a lot bigger than the new paperback copy of Lolita which I had purchased the week before.

A peer inside indicated that it was the third print edition of 1969. The next page listed all his previously published works: 13 novels, 3 collections of short stories, 2 books of verse, a play and a memoir. Obviously, I had missed more than I realized, for this was the first time I had ever been inspired to read Nabokov.

When it came to the classic literature of Western Civilization, admittedly I was still very much a neophyte. Through eight years of college much of what I read had little to do with the Great Books, for as an international relations student I had focused primarily on the culture and politics of other societies. Even when I did make an earnest attempt to catch up, I endeavored to study philosophy mostly, and painstakingly read tomes like War & Peace and Ulysses which monopolized much of my free time.

But here I was now, quite excited to make up for much lost time. And the one of the best things about it was the Strand Used Book Price—$7.50. Happiness never came so cheap.

in the beginning .00 previous chronicle the beginning next chronicle daily archives

legal l.m