Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I really enjoyed The Price of Salt. It's written in an evocatively descriptive but curiously detached manner, and contains one of the most startingly immediate "love at first sight" scenes in any novel I can recall. It also features some of the best writing about working retail at Xmas time.

The front cover has a blurb about it being "the novel that inspired Lolita." Screw that--I mean, yeah, there are obvious similarities and I'm sure Nabokov knew it--but The Price of Salt stands on its own as a great book. Why not put on the cover of Lolita "the novel that blatantly ripped off The Price of Salt?"

I must admit I disliked Therese. I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and shake her. She's so childish, and so selfish. But she's nineteen, and smitten beyond her experience. She treats her moronically over-patient boyfriend shabbily, and he's a decent enough chap, though her failure to break with him drives him to borish behavior at last. Carol is like something out of Henry James--Mme de Violette, Mme. Merle, Gilbert Osmond, the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, or Olive Chancellor--one of those characters who intentionally or not engage in spiritual vampirism. Therese is left drained and nearly helpless, swooning for more.

The end is atypical and unexpected.

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