The Billie Holiday Papers: A Nabokovian Situation

Stuart MItchner

According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, "Nabokovian" pertains to and is "characteristic of, or resembling the literary style of Vladimir Nabokov: a sly, Nabokovian sense of the absurd." But what does that sense of the absurd specifically entail? Something slyly appropriate in someone's name, for a start. A mass murderer named Starkweather is an obvious example. The name of the patrolman witness who saw Teddy Kennedy driving toward the bridge at Chappaquiddick (a Nabokovian word if there ever was one with its double "p" and "d") was Look.

(Painting by Greg Drasler)

Rackett: Standing Room Only in a 3-Car Garage

Stuart Mitchner

If you were watching and listening to Rackett at the Berlind Theatre last Friday, and if you could hear what was happening (enlightened lyrics with nasty guitar licks) in spite of the problematic acoustics, you were witness to one more death blow to the caste system of culture. The joy of Rackett is that these two almost laughably opposite entities -- literary academia and the 3-car garage band -- can not only coexist but can do so uninhibitedly, shamelessly. Or are people so locked into their various castes that their jaws drop when a poet of serious stature shows up on a bandstand with an elecrtic guitar around his neck? Or when a Renaissance scholar of some repute playing and singing and bouncing around the stage like an enchanted Muppet while a grad student into Henry James strokes his guitar in an ecstasy and a student of Early Music blows blues harmonica and sings up a storm?