Surely, I told myself, Think, Write, Speak would consist mainly of archival leftovers — and yet I couldn’t resist devouring its 500 pages. Like Oscar Wilde or W.H. Auden, Nabokov fearlessly professes such 'strong opinions' — the title of the previous collection of his nonfiction — that he’s always immense fun to read ... Overall, there’s no doubt that Think, Write, Speak will chiefly appeal to the Nabokov completist. Still, any sensitive reader will linger over the beautiful sentences with which Nabokov enriches even his most casual prose.
... is mostly for completists ... Nabokov disliked the Q. and A. 'I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child,' he wrote. Yet two-thirds of Think, Write, Speak is made up of interviews, more than 80 of them, most conducted after the publication of Lolita. One suspects that Nabokov, spying this talky book from the Great Beyond, must feel as if someone has dug up his bones, hanged him, and buried him again ... Nabokov is Nabokov. He dispenses gleaming shards...But the same topics keep coming around, as if on a sushi belt.
Stray letters to the editor also appear throughout -- generally making specific points or corrections; it's a shame there aren't more of these ... The interviews -- questions and responses -- do make up most of this collection, and some of the best are the succinct, staccato exchanges, right to the point ... The editors have trimmed many of these interviews, to avoid duplication of the same sets of questions-and-answers -- presumably helpful in avoiding repetition, but occasionally making for a too-trimmed-back feel ... It's nice to have this material collected here, much of it otherwise inaccessible or difficult to find ... Much in Think, Write, Speak feels familiar, Nabokov's strong but familiar opinions -- about specific authors, books, and, of course, the Soviet Union -- and not too many new details, personal or literary are revealed here, but it's still a fascinating career- and life over-view. There are some valuable new pieces here, particularly the essays on facets of Soviet literature, while the interviews provide consistently good entertainment value ... The volume is obviously of considerable interest and value to any Nabokov-fan, but there's certainly enough here to make it worthwhile also for the more casual reader.