Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.
Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.
In every book or story we are reading – we are facing ourselves. As the great J. Joyce said: any novel you read is about you. To meet yourself, to learn more about your identity in the book you’d pick is what makes a great reader. It’s easy to say – this story is stupid, I couldn’t read it, boring, too many details, too much dialogue… Well, let me remind you of Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis – the book is written with an overwhelming amount of details, but what a beauty! Of course, I know the saying – life is too short to read a bad book, and I fully agree with that, but we often give up too easily.
Vladimir Nabokov said that a great reader rereads. Yes, you didn’t get it the first time. Yes, you hated it even more, the second time, but, finally, on the third – it wasn’t that bad at all.
I reread all the books I could, at least 14-16 times when I was younger. When I started at university, I’ve been so devastated by the number of novels I have to read; I decided that one time is enough. I understand now; sometimes, it isn’t. Sometimes we have to pick up the same book, again and again, to grasp all the nuances and flavors that the writer wanted to share with us, which we didn’t notice at first.
Without a doubt, with a tremendous amount of fiction and names on the shelves at the bookstores, it’s genuinely impossible to reread all of the books. To tell the truth, some are impossible to read. There are SO MANY books that bore me to death. I believe Nabokov would support me with this statement.
As we know, Nabokov hated all Russian writers (classic), except two: Gogol and Tolstoy. He liked some Chekhov, but not 100%.
Nabokov said that Dostoyevsky was “a third-rate writer, and his fame is incomprehensible.”
He called Henry James “that pale porpoise.”
Philip Roth? “Farcical.”
Norman Mailer? “I detest everything that he stands for.”
T. S. Eliot and Thomas Mann? “Fakes!”
When Nabokov’s friend Wilson suggested that he include Jane Austen in his Cornell survey course on European literature, Nabokov responded, “I dislike Austen and am prejudiced, in fact, against all women writers.”
Some would say he was a jerk.
I don’t know… maybe he knew he could do it better than anyone else.
Nabokov said, “the reader should have a good imagination, memory, and a dictionary.” Should we listen to a giant in the world of literature?
I have rewritten — often several times —
every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers. V. Nabokov
The answer is obvious! ☕️😉📚
By the way, I changed Book Recommendations for November. Check it out – blog link:
- I recommend Vladimir Nabokov’s book Lectures on Literature (there are two volumes). Especially if you are some kind of handmade writer without any literary background. The books he is analyzing are classical novels, but I assume you have read most of them. If not – it’s never too late to start reading great masters, such as Dickens, Joyce, Proust, Flaubert, Gogol, Bunin.
- I recommend the book of River Dixon (pulp, horror, ghosts) – The smell of cedar – link Amazon US
- I recommend the book of Sabina Gabrielli Carrara (paranormal suspense, crime) – The Last Witch: A Seacross Mystery – link Amazon US
Next post – Author Interview. Sabina Gabrielli Carrara