Garth Risk Hallberg on what is probably Nabokov’s densest, most obscure novel: Ada, or Ardor.
Of the major edifices he erected in English, his last, Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969), is his most excessive, both in its difficulty and in the pleasures it affords the (re)reader.
That excess begins with sheer length. At 589 pages (plus endnotes!), Ada is twice the size of your average Nabokov paperback. Nor would it be fair to call Ada a page-turner; even as it hews to the plot of the “family chronicle,” it elaborates on the textual gamesmanship . . . continue reading, and add your comments
David Gates writes an evenhanded, lucid review of The Original of Laura:
But although “The Original of Laura” has, at long last, been properly published — assuming it was proper to publish it at all — there’s not enough of it to be properly reviewed, as Nabokov himself would surely understand. “Not quite finished” with the manuscript? This was a sad understatement, for public consumption. As his biographer Brian Boyd explains, Nabokov would customarily “envisage a novel in his mind complete from start to finish before writing it down” — on 3-by-5 cards, which allowed him to . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Gets turned down by The New Yorker, ends up in Playboy.
Nabokov, by the way, is no stranger to Playboy. As Brian Boyd reports in his massive two-volume bio, Nabokov first battled with Playboy over French publisher Maurice Girodias's (of Lolita fame) article in that magazine about their relationship. But later he was interviewed by the magazine (after receiving an Academy Award for the Lolita screenplay) and later excerpted 8 chapters of Ada therein.