Entries in Vladimir Nabokov (2)

Monday
Feb012010

A Fragmented Novel


I was in Green Apple Bookstore today falling in love with every book wishing the store had their own credit card so I could spend all the money on books I wanted, when I saw this beautifully designed hardback. I don't want to say it was "written" by Vladimir Nabokov because there's controversy over why this was published when it was never supposed to. Ooo, sounds like literature gossip, doesn't it? It is.

Apparently, Nabokov had never wanted to publish this novel if he had not finished it. When he passed away in 1977, "The Original of Laura" sat unfinished, and it was through direct orders from the writer himself that his wife was to destroy the fragmented novel if it were never completed. Like any other wife with a brilliant writer for a husband would have done, she kept the pieces of unfinished work. She had never published it, but she also hadn't destroyed it.

In 1991 she passed away leaving the fragmented novel to stay with the remaining family, their son, Dmitri. Once the responsibility was left in his hands he considered keeping to his fathers' wishes as well. Until now.

The cover of the book prints "A Novel in Fragments", because it literally is. Nabokov had written his only draft on index cards. And because this was the way the pieces of novel survived, his son decided to publish the unfinished novel with the cards themselves.

When you open the book you see replicated index cards printed on each page with the type printed directly beneath it. You can choose to read the book though the scribbles of Nabokov's handwriting or through the paragraphs printed below the cards. And, if you're really in the mood to become one with Nabokov and attempt to see his writing the way he did, you can punch out each index card (yes, they perforated every card in the book), and arrange them how you'd imagine the story of "The Original of Laura" being told.


Unfortunately, I did not buy the book. I'll just have to return during the week to admire it and read snippets. If any of you read it let me know how it is. I've read articles saying it's not quite the read considering half of the novel is placed in an order that most believe was not the original way Nabokov had intended.

Photo creds: A Look Inside!,

Thursday
Dec032009

books and design

judge a book by its cover. really. i do.

the cover of a book means a lot to me. it shows me how involved the author was with the publishing and marketing of their own work. you spend all this time writing, editing, revising, etc, you better go through the time of having cover art that can easily be framed in a cute shadow box on my wall. wouldn't you want that?

my obsession for books that i have yet to read but love to have on my shelf is a little out of control. if i could dedicate an entire room to just books, i would. i've recently been paying closer attention to the actual designs on book covers and wanted to share this post with you because i feel good design makes such a difference in everything. good design allows me to be a consumer when i can't afford to. good design makes me feel like i own something of value. and good design looks good on my shelves. so have fun with me as i share just a tiny few of some excellently designed book covers:


1. a novel idea 2. all and sundry uncollected work 2004-2009 3. the journey prize stories 21: the best of canada's new writers 4. this is where i leave you

if i've kept your attention to this point, you might also enjoy this project that a group of designers are undertaking. hopefully you've read at least one of vladimir nabokov's books, if not, go get one and become a fan. fortunately, i took a class that focused primarily on every single piece of literature he wrote (just ask if you want to borrow one), so i've come to treasure his words. this project takes nabokov's fascination with the collection of butterflies and puts a new twist to redesigning the covers to his books. designers were to only use paper and specimen boxes. take a look at the few i'm sharing with you, and then go watch the rest of the nabokov collection slideshow here to see the others and read more about the project.