A bizarre, three-legged race of a novel, Pale Fire is composed of a long, narrative poem followed by a much longer set of footnotes written by an obsessive, increasingly deranged annotator. Charles Kinbote, a gay professor at a small New England college, may or may not be a noble-born expatriate from the exotic Eastern European principality of Zembla. He may or may not have stolen the manuscript he’s annotating, which he is convinced is really all about him. He is unquestionably unhealthily obsessed with John Shade, the placid, Robert Frost-like poet who composed the poem. Beyond that all bets are off, and the questions ramify without end. Pale Fire is the kind of novel you can happily get lost in: a house of mirrors with no exit, a labyrinth with no endpoint.
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