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Speak, Memoir Writer

I was deep into a beautiful essay by Nabokov (a redundant phrase), wondering why the words felt so familiar, when I glanced at a footnote on the main page and realized the essay I was reading was the precursor to the beginning of Speak, Memory. I last read Speak, Memory in college, which means more than two decades had passed since I last put my eyes on this funny, perceptive, enormously literate work, first published in 1951 and then revised for publication in 1966. But when a very young Nabokov climbs behind a couch in a childhood fantasy many of us can connect with, my own memory raced to the front with the words on the page–the greatly gratifying rereading experience. (If there is nothing sadder than finishing a wonderful book for the very first time, there is nothing more satisfying than rereading a book worthy of repeated visits.)

Speak, Memory is a thin book, but if you want to indulge yourself in just a little Nabokov, check it out of your library and read the first chapter. It stands on its own as an essay about memory and writing. Who knows, but after you finish this chapter you might turn the page and keep reading.

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