Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0018610, Sun, 27 Sep 2009 23:11:33 -0400

Minor McFate sighting
Dear list,

I have meant for some weeks to send along this link to Mary Gaitskill's
"Lost Cat" essay from Granta--a hard but irresistable read that touches on
the name "McFate." I recommend backing up to the first page of the essay and
starting from there, but here's the link to the page talking about naming
her cat: http://bit.ly/vv8ES. And here's the relevant excerpt:

"My husband did not like the name Chance and I wasn’t sure I did either; he
suggested McFate, and so I tried it out. McFate grew stronger, grew a
certain one-eyed rakishness, an engaged forward quality to his ears and an
eagerness in the attitude of his neck that was gallant in his fragile body.
He put on weight, and his long legs and tail became soigné, not grotesque.
He had strong necklace markings on his throat; when he rolled on his back
for me to pet him, his belly was beige and spotted like an ocelot. In a
confident mood, he was like a little gangster in a zoot suit. Pensive, he
was still delicate; his heart seemed closer to the surface than normal, and
when I held him against me, it beat very fast and light. McFate was too big
and heartless a name for such a small fleet-hearted creature. ‘Mio Gattino,’
I whispered, in a language I don’t speak to a creature who didn’t understand
words. *‘Mio dolce piccolo gatto.’"*

As everyone on this list likely knows, Gaitskill has long
expressed admiration for the works of VN (e.g.,
http://www.salon.com/12nov1995/feature/nabokov.html) and has in part made
her name with her own willingness to delve into the shame and obsessions of
her characters.


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