Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Cleaning Nabokov's House"

Leslie Daniels' stories have appeared in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Florida Review, Gulf Coast, The Santa Monica Review and New Ohio Review. The Shooting Gallery in New York City produced her one-act play. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Associated Writing Programs. From 2005 to 2010, she was the fiction editor for The Green Mountains Review.

Daniels applied the Page 69 Test to Cleaning Nabokov's House, her debut novel, and reported the following:
This page has some of the threads of my fascination with shame, with tenderness, with the imagined life. It has a representative dancing away from pretension. The relationship between the reader (fictional, the narrator here) and the writer (also fictional, a book by Vladimir Nabokov that is pure invention) is explored on p. 69.
I walked home without knowing it. Nothing looked familiar. I went inside my house and closed the door. I took my clothes off and got in the bathtub and cried. I don’t know why I had to be naked to cry properly, but I did. Then I took a blanket to the couch and read Babe Ruth again.

I tried to read past the story to see what the person who wrote it cared about. It was a shape-shifting kind of book. The writer understood that even in the middle of the most ordinary of happy circumstances, shame and exposure lurked. I wasn’t sure if the writer even believed in love, although there was a lot of love in the book. There were also long twisting paragraphs studded with horror, small shards of horror, like splinters of glass under fingernails.

I thought about Nabokov living here, looking out these same windows, wondering if it was going to rain on him when he walked to teach his class at Waindell. I wondered if Vera handed him the right coat for the weather, or drove with him in their big ’46 Oldsmobile. I wondered if they ever went to a baseball game, and if they did, why?
Learn more about the book and author at Leslie Daniels's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue