Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao :: Junot Diaz


Going into this book, I had a couple of reservations, for the following reasons: 1) I had been eh about the excerpt in The New Yorker over the summer - I didn't like it when I thought it was a short story, though once I realized it was an excerpt, I felt it was fine for what an excerpt calls for. But you know, damage done. 2) So much hype! Could it live up to the expectations??

Well, the answer, for me at least, is yes. There are a couple of issues, but I think it's strengths far outshine it's weaknesses. I mean, the Spanish lexicon threw me off sometimes, and I sometimes desperately wanted to know what was being said but was nowhere near a Spanish dictionary (I assume there's so much slang anyway), I'm unsure about the final final ending, and I felt certain portions of the book were much more compelling than others.

Nonetheless, everything is really great. It's a love story in the simplest sense (or a story about a really really awkward fat kid who my heart ACHES for), but in a larger sense it's about culture, roots, and, as Diaz likes to say, diaspora. It is big but it's also micro - it spawns generations, but in it, is this sad little individual. It runs through a family's history, the heartaches they have suffered, and how it all culminates in this one boy and his quest for LOVE. It's heartbreaking at times, but also so dorky and funny and such a great narrative voice that you never feel bogged down. Seriously, a pleasure to read.

I've written so extensively on the other elements I love about the book, that I won't here. But yes. Definitely worth picking up.

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