Robert Macfarlane in More Intelligent Life:

LoHumbert Humbert, literature's best-known paedophile, calls it his “joy-ride”. For a year he tours the back-roads of rural America, with Lolita, who is 12, as his coerced companion and his regular victim. Together they cover thousands of miles in Humbert’s sedan, gliding down the “glossy” black-top from New England to the Rockies via the Midwestern corn prairies. They become connoisseurs of motel America—“the stucco court”, “the adobe unit”, “the log cabin”—always checking in as father and daughter, and never staying longer than a couple of nights. Milk bars and diners are their mealtime haunts; tiny tourist traps (“a lighthouse in Virginia…a granite obelisk commemorating the Battle of Blue Licks”) their daylight destinations.

Vladimir Nabokov’s account of this loathsome road-trip occupies less than a tenth of his notorious novel. To me these are the most brilliantly unsettling pages he ever wrote: a Baedeker of perversion that—in Humbert’s phrase—“put[s] the geography of the United States in motion”, as he and poor Lo career across the “crazy quilt of forty-eight states”. If you’ve read “Lolita” (1955), you’ll know the disturbing dissonance it incites. For Humbert is a narrator of astonishing guile, his voice so slyly supple that it distracts from the black vileness of his deeds. Style serves as his alibi and amnesty. You feel uneasily complicit at each jolt of pleasure his prose delivers, each arch allusion you pursue, each double-entendre you decode. Yes, his language is foully fallen—and it pulls the reader down with it.

More here.