KR BlogReading

Sunday Funnies: Classics, anyone?

This past summer at the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, all of the high school students were oohing and ahhing over favorite books list, especially Lolita, listing it as their “favorite, brilliant novel.” Now, back in my reality of the freshman composition classroom where asking students to read is an invitation to rolling eyes, groans, and discourse skimmed from Sparknotes, I’m on the hunt for the perfect book–the book that will make my students love reading and think it’s the greatest thing in the universe! Could it be Lolita? Who knew Nabokov was such a cult hero–I didn’t. Kerouac is more in line with my “mythic author” sensibilities, but Nabokov definitely has a fan following (in the true, root sense of that word). In the September issue of Vogue there’s a delicious little essay about meeting Nabokov. This got me to thinking about how important it is to get kids reading the classics, or anything, frankly. Having not read Lolita in at least 15 years, I have to admit that much of the story is blurry–“that’s the one about an old guy seducing a young teenager, right?” But the scandal around the novel (and the movies) could be what gets the students into the novel. These days, students like a little bit of scandal with their literature. When was the last time you read Lolita? Today could be the day. Grab a coffee, plop down into your favorite chair, and turn the page.