‘Razor’ by Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Dmitri Nabokov

“Chin like an elbow” is, I think, as good a description of a face as you can get. This is nasty, brutish and short, but written with such clarity that the character of Razor leaps from the page, while remaining entirely, properly inscrutable. Nabokov does amazing things with the short story, clever things, but I think he’s never better than when actually telling a story, and in this case, telling one that seems very close to the classic, simple genre stories of the thirties.

First published in Russian as ‘Britva’ in Rul, 1926. Available in English in Collected Stories of Vladimir Nabokov, 1995

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