Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov, Doubleday, 1957, 191 pp
Professor Timofey Pnin is a Russian immigrant who came to America via Europe, particularly Paris, and in this account is teaching Russian at small Waindell College in New England. This short novel is more a collection of stories about Pnin. Nabakov puts the reader into the mind and heart of a man who has lost much but continues on in his sometimes endearing, sometimes ridiculous way.
I found the book easy to read, unlike some of Nabokov's other novels, and I wanted always to know more about Pnin, what happened to his sad and crazy wife, how he would get along with the artistic genius who is his son. By the end when Pnin suffers yet another blow in his tortured life, I felt I had been living with these characters at Waindell College. I could have gone to the party Pnin hosted at one of his many dwellings and got on just fine.
The wonder of Nabokov is how he can capture so much in so few words. It is like taking dried foods and adding water to reconstitute all the richness and flavor. Just add a reader and out of the book comes so much experience, location, character and emotion.
(Pnin is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)