Books and Arts
Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicleby Vladimir Nabokov(McGraw-Hill; $8.95)If the first reviews are any indication Ada may become the most over-praised novel of the decade. The ready superlatives of commerce and publicity have joined with the exegetical talents of a new breed of critics to launch an instant masterpiece. This would be curious and revealing even if Ada merely fell short of greatness.
"I wonder if you could add one small item to your shopping list?" Kim Philby wrote from Moscow to his wife Eleanor who was visiting in California. "I was thinking of some song-restorer for the canary. There was one feeble effort to sing the other night, but since then silence again. On all other counts, he seems perfectly fit, good appetite, bright eyes, and he gives his usual warning cheeps .when I go near his cage. Perhaps he has just forgotten how. . . ."Or perhaps being in a cage does not fill one's heart with gladness.
Bonnie and Clyde Warner Brothers "I have a bad memory for facts," Stendhal once wrote, and Flaubert said later that "everything the artist invents is true." I don't mean to imply that Arthur Penn, the director of Bonnie and Clyde, or Robert Benton and David Newman, its writers, have anything like that kind of stature, but the principles hold up.