LO'S DIARY by Pia Pera


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The notorious re-telling (originally published in Italian in 1995) of Lolita in the words of the nymphet herself who drove Humbert Humbert beyond all constraint. Result: a mix of wit and tedium in near-equal parts. The wit appears early, as 12-year-old Dolores Maze (as opposed to Haze) describes her 1946 home life in Goatscreek, New Hampshire, no seducer yet in sight. When Lo was four, her little brother of two was electrocuted (tossed like “a piece of toast popped out of the toaster” by a downed wire). Lo’s father, before his own abrupt end in 1945, reacted by killing lizards in a miniature electric chair in the garage. Her mother, a widow at 35, stared at the ceiling while Lo herself explored the world of scent (“I had spent the whole summer sniffing my mother’s feet and collecting spiders”). Into this world of wacky sadness enters the French academic gentleman Humbert Guibert as a paying roomer—a point after which much of the book’s charm flees as the necessities of its inherited script take over: as Lo is transformed into a sexual veteran at summer camp; as Humbert marries her mother so as to keep access to Lo; as her mother then dies (was she murdered by Humbert?); and as Humbert picks Lo up from the summer camp to embark upon a year’s car-odyssey across the US, during which time his “sex-slave” Lo is mostly bored by her keeper, though she does obediently keep the “travel log”of sights that Hummie “assigns” her, sounding in it often far too old for her age, as she does also when the duo alights in Ithaca, New York, and Lo becomes struck by the stage—before fleeing with a hyperbolically seedy practitioner of same. Nabokov’s novel, with its own excellences and scandal, was also a thing of its real historic moment; while Pera’s retake of it gains life, in the main, as an already dated curiosity. (First printing of 40,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1999
ISBN: 0-9643740-1-3
Page count: 293pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999


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