Nabokovilia: Michael Chabon

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007)
Afterword: ...the Zugzwang of Mendel Shpilman was devised by Reb Vladimir Nabokov and is presented in Speak, Memory. (p. 418)

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000)
Here, in a weird radiance cast by the tails of a thousand writhing glowworms, sits on a barbarous throne a raven-haired giantess with immense green wings, sensuously furred antennae, and a sharp expression. She is, quite obviously, the Cimmerian moth goddess, Lo. We know it before she even opens her rowanberry mouth.

"You?" the goddess says, her feelers wilting in evident dismay. "You are the one the book has chosen? You are to be the next Mistress of the Night?"

Miss [Judy] Dark -- wreathed discreetly now in curling tufts of dry-ice smoke -- concedes that it seems unlikely. (p. 271)

Wonder Boys (1995)
"You have to keep with it," I told him. "You have to read on." I was making the argument I had made to myself, over the years -- to the harsh and unremitting editor who lived in the deepest recesses of my gut. It sounded awfully thin, spoken aloud at last. "It's that kind of a book. Like Ada, you know, or Gravity's Rainbow. It teaches you how to read it as you go along. Or -- Kravnik's." (p. 312)

Additional Chabon/Nabokov material:

Bridges to Antiterra

Anyone interested in Ada is urged to visit Ada Online: it includes the text of the novel and professor Boyd's annotations. The site is accurate, beautifully organized, rich with insight and information, and is in every regard everything this particular page is not--which is to say that Ada Online is not

A monstrous, incomplete, and (most likely) inaccurate log of the literature found in Nabokov’s glorious Ada. For the serious footwork you have Professor Brian Boyd to thank -- I’ve used his endnotes from the Library of America edition of Ada (as well as Nabokov’s Vivian Darkbloom’s Notes to Ada). All mistakes are, of course, mine. Corrections and comments and clues are welcome.

I eventually hope to have hypertext links to all the works and authors on the table. ADA doesn't need this kind of context, by the way, but it comes in handy for a second or third reading. Page numbers refer to the Library of America edition. Asterisks point to double or triple puns or jokes made by Nabokov. I'll select a brief quote from the novel to illustrate the reference, but that won't happen for a while. Also, I've excluded multiple allusions to a poem or novel, limiting myself to one for illustration purposes (for more, look to Brian Boyd's notes for the Library of America edition or buy his excellent Nabokov's Ada: The Place of Consciousness).

Allusions to paintings, magazine articles, and songs are not listed.

Bracketed titles are either not yet in the Public Domain or they could not be found on-line, but they can be purchased from Amazon.Com.

Ada as a Difficult Book

Lawrence Weschler has observed, astutely, that writers tend to move from Romanesque to Gothic. The early work will be thick, solid, even heavy; only with decades of experience does the writer learn to chisel away excess, as the builders of Notre Dame did: to let in the light. In the case ofVladimir Nabokov, however, the converse seems to obtain. 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.
The rest at The Millions. (Reminds me of the line in Wonder Boys: "It's that kind of a book. Like Ada, you know, or Gravity's Rainbow. It teaches you how to read it as you go along")