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Best little whorehouse in … Ithaca?

In the 2011 novel “Cleaning Nabokov’s House” by Ithaca resident Leslie Daniels, the protagonist (like Daniels) lives in the house once rented by Vladimir Nabokov, author of “Lolita,” who taught literature at Cornell, 1948-59. The house is in upstate New York’s “Onkwedo,” home of “Waindell University,” which for local readers are clearly Ithaca and Cornell.

Why use fictional names?

Says Daniels: “Both ‘Onkwedo’ and ‘Waindell’ are from Nabokov’s novel, “Pnin,” which he may have been writing while here in this house [in 
1953]. …[I used Onkwedo] because I wanted to make a joke about the place names in upstate New York sounding so similar.”

The protagonist discovers a manuscript in the house and because it is handwritten on index cards – as Nabokov did in real life – she thinks it is by the literary titan. She also hires members of the Waindell crew team to service randy female professors and other local women in a part-time whorehouse.

Does Daniels know something we don’t?

— Susan Lang


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