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Freakonomics v. Lolita: Can You Tell the Difference?

Despite our slight incredulity, Freakonomics has beaten Jane Austen and advanced to the final round of Time Out New York‘s “Ultimate Book Bracket,” meant to determine the book most essential to cocktail party conversation in New York City. Now Freakonomics is up against the winner of the “American Classics” category, none other than Vladimir Nabokov‘s Lolita.

At first blush, the two books would seem to have little in common. But wait –a closer reading shows that telling them apart isn’t necessarily so simple. Below are selected phrases from each book. See if you can match each sentence with its book; answers at the end.

1. [T]he so-called [redacted] may have been the instigator of one ripple effect, in which by his actions a single person inadvertently causes an ocean of despair.

2. Whatever evolution this or that popular character has gone through between the book covers, his fate is fixed in our minds … similarly, we expect our friends to follow this or that logical and conventional pattern we have fixed for them.

3. No man can bring about the perfect murder; chance, however, can do it.

4. This [redacted] is bound to provoke a variety of reactions, ranging from disbelief to revulsion, and a variety of objections, ranging from the quotidian to the moral.

5. [The] parent, after all, is the steward of another creature’s life, a creature who in the beginning is more helpless than the newborn of … any other species.

6. I touched her hot, opening lips with the utmost piety, tiny sips, nothing salacious; but she, with an impatient wriggle, pressed her mouth to mine so hard that I felt her big front teeth and shared in the peppermint taste of her saliva.


1. F

2. L

3. L

4. F

5. F

6. L (okay, that one was easy.)