Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What book would you save for last?

In the season finale of season two of Lost, the character Desmond says he carries around Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend because he wants that to be the last book he reads before dying.

As with much else on Lost, there's (apparently) more to that story. But I won't know just what that is until after the DVD comes out. If you are current with the show, click here for a New York Times story that delves into the matter.

The Chicago Tribune asked three of its writers what their last book would be. Charles Storch's choice:
Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov. I was unhorsed in my first sally at this novel many years ago. It has a dual structure: the final poem by Charles Shade, a Robert Frost-like figure; and the long and loony commentary on the poem that follows by Shade's neighbor Charles Kinbote, formerly of the Kingdom of Zembla. But did the same character write both parts? Is Kinbote really the king of Zembla or is he a figment of a third character's imagination? Had I taken more care with the text and paid more respect to Nabokov's intelligence, perhaps I might have had a clue. Maybe I will go out with the answer.
Click here to read the other two selections.

Our Mutual Friend is available for free online: click here or here to read it.

The opening paragraph:
In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.
--Marshal Zeringue