Laughter in the Dark – Vladimir Nabokov

“A certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish – but there was no diamond inside. That’s what I like about coincidence.”

Vladimir Nabokov, Laughter in the Dark

This is the first novel written by Nabokov that I had ever read, and I was left keen to read more by him – which is always a good sign.

Any fairly regular reader of my reviews will know that I’m a sucker for a book with despicable characters. Anyone morally repugnant and I’m basically hooked, instantly. Fortunately, they were abound in this story. A man, married and a father, by his own admission happily, upends his entire life for an attractive young woman. A good start.

As the affair progresses, Albinus remains hooked by the youthful allure of his mistress. Unsurprisingly, however, the young mistress is not enjoying Albinus’ company for his flabby middle-aged charms; rather, his wallet. And, naturally, there is a younger man from the past vying for her attentions.

I will not pretend that the tale is intelligently woven or masterfully written. But, I consumed it like a soap opera (where, curiously, the story would not actually be out of place). It was immensely readable and the ending was entirely satisfying.

If you like to fall in love with your book characters, then do not read this – they have very few redeeming qualities. If you want a deliciously immoral summer read with a fair amount of sleaze and a large helping of revenge, but solidly written, then this is for you.

7/10

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. I love to know more about the book.

  2. Ruth Estevez says:

    Have you read Confederacy of Dunces? The protagonist is hard to like, but there is dark humour here.

    1. TheseNovelThoughts says:

      I haven’t, but I will! Thank you

  3. joleethinks says:

    I haven’t read any of Nabokov’s originally Russian texts yet, but you made me want to start with this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. jamesrneal says:

    Have you read “Invitation to a Beheading”? It’s the only work of his I’ve read so far — and I enjoyed it — but look forward to reading “Laughter in the Dark” and “Pale Fire.” Thanks.

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