“Just a few days after Nabokov’s death, there was an invasion of butterflies out in Springs, Long Island. It probably happens every year. But the reason I noticed the butterflies this time was the presence—or the absence—of Nabokov.
“While I was riding my bicycle, in fact, I had the pleasure of traveling with one of them: a monarch, one of those orange-and-black butterflies that migrate from Canada down to Mexico. It was right beside me, we were moving at the same speed, and the butterfly was at the same height as my head. The proximity of the butterfly transformed me into an airborne head, a cherub or a seraph, one of Raphael’s angels composed solely of a head and wings.”