(urth) Pandora + new reader questions
thrax at fastmail.com
Wed Oct 2 11:07:32 PDT 2019
Recent fan and first time mailer here. I've been working my way through Wolfe over the past months -- slowly, as I tend to survive on secondhand shops for my fiction reading, in which I have found slim pickings.
Through these means I picked up Pandora and read it (in a day) yesterday. I was surprised by the seeming earnestness of the book, and the lack of sci-fi elements, and a quick search through the list indicates it's not held in very high regard by some past contributors.
One contributor quoted another writer as saying, to paraphrase, that every writer must write a Sherlock Holmes pastiche sooner or later. But while reading I wondered whether it was a pastiche of Nabokov's *Lolita*. Firstly, the narrator's triple H initials are surely a tribute to Humbert Humbert. Secondly, the Foreword 'spoils' some of the ending in much the way that Nabokov's does (though I suppose this kind of structure is itself a pastiche of real narrative accounts that do similar things). Thirdly I think there are some similarities in theme, such as the corruption of youth (where HHH is a sort of Lolita and Aladdin Blue a sort of HH/Quilty), and in content, such as the Carmen references (explicitly invoked by the narrator in chapter 6, but also echoed by the character of Larry Lief (another alliterative name) -- military background, womanizer, etc).
This isn't to say that I think it's a particularly deep novel, but I do wonder if Wolfe threw a few things like this in to add interest to what is otherwise a fairly pedestrian crime story. Couldn't find this discussed in the list before.
On a separate note: as I mentioned, it's hard to track Wolfe books down without engaging the daunting marketplace websites like eBay. I was wondering if anyone in the UK had any recommendations for where to find good copies of his works (preferably all of the same edition and all from the same dealer). I'm mainly looking to continue reading the Urth books after devouring the New Sun series earlier this year, though I might try to pick up the Best Of too.
Hope this reaches everyone okay and looking forward to continuing correspondence with you all,
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