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The Ada Poems

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  23 ratings  ·  9 reviews
A dazzling story of obsessive love emerges in Cynthia Zarin’s luminous new book inspired and inhabited by the title character of Nabokov’s novel Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, who was the lifelong love of her half brother, Van.

These electric poems are set in a Nabokovian landscape of memory in which real places, people, and things—the exploration of the Hudson River, E
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Knopf
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James Murphy
Phooey. This is difficult poetry. I had a hard time with The Ada Poems. When I finished and closed the book I did so with the feeling that I wasn't a match for the poems here, that I'd been overwhelmed, my hair mussed and my shirt torn. Apparently these are poems, most of them, spoken by the gentle girl of Nabokov's novel of the same name. Many are love poems. Memory is a major theme, too, as is time. The verbal voice evokes Nabokov, or at least the voice of Ada, and cold, snow-blown Russian nig ...more
I haven't yet read Nabokov's Ada, or Ardor, though I own a copy, but I think that's OK: I think it's enough to read The Ada Poems informed just by the quotes from Nabokov that Zarin uses throughout, and by the flap copy, which explains that these poems are "inspired and inhabited by the title character of Nabokov's novel Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, who was the lifelong love of her half brother, Van."

I like the way Zarin's language builds on itself, an associative vocabulary that grows wi
AJ Conroy
Jun 07, 2011 AJ Conroy marked it as to-read
From NPR review: My husband and I love one of the poems from this book so much we had it blown up to poster size, framed it and hung it on our living room wall. Sexy and sonorous, they dazzle on the first reading but demand many more. Cynthia Zarin's collection is inspired by the title character of Nabokov's Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, a novel that tells the story of lifelong lovers who discover they are actually brother and sister. Zarin's poems intertwine that complex love story with a ...more
Reading Vladimir Nabokov's six-hundred page magnum opus, Ada, is much like climbing to the top of a monument, say, Washington, D.C.'s famous obelisk, or Prague's Astronomical Clock Tower: the steep, vertiginous ascent ultimately pays off in a breathtaking view of the landscape below, a landscape you have traversed within the twin cocoons of stairwell and elevator, or in this case, sentence and paragraph, to reach a glorious summit. In other words, it's not a beach read. Cynthia Zarin's bold coll ...more
Love, movement, time, grief, loss. I have not read The novel which inspired these poems. I had heard about this collection through NPR. I bought the book during a holiday out west and it then sat on my shelf for several months. I opened the book when I need some sort of worded sign and now I feel as though I never want to leave the pages. Time has past for me yet these poems resonate with a longing that at once drowns and rescues,the heart.
I read about half of this then stopped, mostly because though the language was gorgeous ("Fire runs along the wires as if someone had wrapped/the sound in rags and lit a match.") and the premise interesting, I have not read the novel on which it's based. If you have, then I'd suggest this book of poems whole-heartedly. I will, however, pick up another volume of Zarin's poetry instead.
Difficult but beautiful poetry. I think it demands more than one reading to really soak in.
This book contains original and vivid writing that will be rewarding to any poetry fan.
Naturally, now I must read Ada, or Ardor, by Nabokov.
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