I never read "Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov, because I always thought I shouldn't. "Lolita" was never offered and never discussed in any college or high school class. By omission, I was being told that to read about a crime is to celebrate it, and in our culture, there are few taboos greater than pedophilia.
But there it was on the "Literature" shelf -- next to other books that had changed my life by Fyodor Dostoevsky, J.D. Salinger and Ezra Pound.
Of all the bizarre and counter-culture literature I had read, why was I afraid to read this one?
A month ago, I finally put down my $10 at the bookstore and decided to find out.
I discovered immediately that "Lolita" is a page-turner, and not for the reasons you've been told not to imagine. The book is written like a mystery novel -- giving you hints of some future disaster by beginning at the end.
By the end of the first chapter, you already know the main character is in prison where he is writing his memoir.
The anti-hero, Humbert Humbert, leads you through his "love" of the young Dolly/Lolita. Because it is written from his point of view, you find yourself identifying with him for a brief moment. It takes willpower to remind yourself that Humbert is a selfish misanthrope and sociopath who is destroying the life of a young girl.
I do not agree with the short review published on the cover that read, "The only true love story of our time." There was no love in this story, but love of self.
If you've never picked this book up, it is a great read and lends itself to great discussion -- which is, after all, the reason we read books at all.