Pale Fire
by Vladimir Nabokov

This is experimental fiction at its absolute best. Nabokov gives us “Pale Fire” — a 999 line poem in four cantos, by the fictional and recently deceased John Shade — and then proceeds to make us grapple with literally everything that piece of text refers to and may or may not represent. Aside from totally sidestepping a bunch of novelistic conventions, the structure of the book (half poem, half prose) very uniquely zeroes in on the ways in which literature and its makers can construct, albeit with perpetual fraudulence, the narrative we like to call reality. By the end the cause of Shade’s death becomes clear, but that’s pretty much it. What we’re left with are questions of who to believe, what language can do to perception, and the sheer violence of writing and representation. When writers, in the course of writing, happen to touch upon about writing and people who write, funny things happen. Pale Fire truly is a special piece of work, and I’ll give you ten bucks if you can explain it to me.
-Sam Spokony

One thought on “LitStack Pick: Our Favorite Books on Writers and Writing”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.