This was the most difficult book I read in high school. I read Speak, Memory
when I was in Mrs. Kerns' Honors English 11 (a junior in high school).
Initially, I remember hating this book. I couldn't figure out why we were reading it, and I didn't know what made Vladimir Nabokov so special or worth knowing about. Part of what infuriated me was the fast pace we had to take in order to finish this book and move on to others. Eventually, I approached my teacher about it, and she gave me a reading extension.
This extension changed my perspective about Nabokov's autobiography. Time was essential. I needed to read slowly in order to really enjoy it. I found the language enchanting as he created a vivid picture of his childhood and life. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew Vladimir Nabokov. I had become part of his story. It was truly a profound moment for me, and it is one that has stayed with me as I continue my education.
After finishing this book, many of the students decided to read Lolita
. Not me. I couldn't imagine anything living up to
. And I was right. I finally read Lolita
in 2009, and although I enjoyed it, it was not better than Nabokov's autobiography. Speak, Memory
is really incomparable. It's like comparing apples to oranges. One is a living and breathing life while the other is a fanciful story. Both pleasurable reads but in different ways.
One day, I will revisit this timeless classic. For now, I will always have the memory of my first meeting of a writing genius-- Vladimir Nabokov.