Well, perhaps not exactly hot off the presses, but at least several hours before it officially hits the newsstands, I have a copy of the December 2009 Playboy, in which the first 5000 words of Vladimir Nabokov’s unfinished novel The Original of Laura is excerpted. On the cover of the “Gala Christmas Issue” the heading “World Exclusive/Vladimir Nabokov/The Original of Laura” jostles for space with “Sasha Grey Unleashes her Inner Lolita.” And there it begins, on page 44, takes a break on page 48, and wraps up on 164. There are reproductions of note cards #7 and #8, the contents of a few short letters from Nabokov to Hugh Hefner, an explanatory piece on the trajectory of the novel from its genesis to its publication, and an excerpt from the 1964 Playboy Interview conducted, I believe, by Alvin Toffler (by the way, the written piece that accompanies the Sasha Grey pictorial, concentrating on the Kubrick film, was penned by none other than Roger Ebert and is worth a read if you haven’t read it all before.).
And what to make of it, having hurriedly run through it a few times? Let me just say this: it could, really could, really really could, win first prize in a Vladimir Nabokov writing contest (more Ada than Lolita). Brief synopses of sad lives and tragic deaths comically presented (suicide, homicide, traffic accident); an elderly unattractive pedophile named Hubert H. Hubert(!); a few twelve year-old girls (of course), one living (Flora) one dead (Daisy); Flora’s eyelashes. Assorted naughtiness.
In other words, worth a read.
By the way, the August 1976 cover shown was inspired by an illustration by Mr. Nabokov that he included in his December 28, 1968 letter to Mr. Hefner. See the bunny?
Full text of excerpt here.