Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004517, Mon, 25 Oct 1999 11:28:19 -0700

Cathy Coote's new novel _Innocents_ (& LOLITA)
From: clifford davy <clifford@tasmail.com>


My apologies if this message is a little wide of the target of NABOKV-L,
but given the postings that have been appearing about Pia Pera's Lo's
Diary, I thought the appearance of a new work by a young Australian writer
might also be of interest to some readers of this list.

The recently released Innocents by Cathy Coote is not a direct re-working
of Lolita in the way that Lo's Diary is. The publishers, however, seem
keen to assert a connection between this work and Lolita. The front cover
includes the following comment from Peter Goldsworthy (who may well be
totally unaware of Pia Pera; as far as I can determine, Lo's Diary hasn't
yet been released in Australia):

"Someone had to write Lolita from her point of view.
Cathy Coote has done it - fast-paced, wicked, disturbing, sexy, moving."

Goldsworthy's judgement is, in my opinion at least, far too generous;
disappointingly, the work does not live up to his claims.

Following are brief notes on the publication and author.

Clifford Davy.

Cathy Coote. Innocents. (Milsons Point, New South Wales: Vintage, 1999)
ISBN 0091839858

Back Cover of Innocents reads:

"There were no mitigating circumstances. There were no excuses ... I
wasn't the victim of child sexual abuse. I didn't grow up in a civil war
zone. My uncle didn't beat me. I don't even have the excuse of neglect ..."

Forcing someone vulnerable and naive into a sexual relationship to satisfy
a twisted desire is perverted. Even evil.

But if the perpetrator is a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl, is she culpable?
And if the victim is her thirty-four-year-old teacher, shouldn't he have
known better?

Yet she is irresistible, inescapable, her performance is seamless. And her
unquenchable addiction to her power of seduction leads him even deeper into
his own darkest desires.

Then the tables turn ...

Precocious, disturbing and morally complex, Innocents is a cooly told
portrait of manipulation and obsession.

Note on the author:

Cathy Coote was born in Canberra in 1977. She won many for her writing
while at school, including the Canberra Times and Sydney Morning Herald
Young Writer of the Year awards in 1995. This is her first novel.