The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao go inside Ebook How this book won the Pulitzer Prize AND the National Book Critics Circle is beyond me It s terrible Here s the review I wrote when it cam
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao go inside Ebook How this book won the Pulitzer Prize AND the National Book Critics Circle is beyond me. It's terrible. Here's the review I wrote when it came out. I stand by this completely. If someone says they read this and liked it, punch them in the throat. (I'm kidding, naturally.)Review of Junot Diaz’s first novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” published Oct. 7, 2007 Imagine, if you will, that seven years after publishing "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," Ernest Hemingway decided to expand his well-known short story into a 350-page novel. Imagine if, before Macomber is "accidentally" shot by his wife on that safari, Hemingway decided to pad the narrative with a couple hundred pages about Macomber's mother, sister, and grandfather -- tangents that only serve to betray the proper focus of the story, its title, and the reader's trust.That, in short, is what Junot Diaz has done with "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" (Riverhead Books, $24.95) -- a short story he wrote for the New Yorker in 2000, and which, in novel form, devotes more pages to the title character's extended family (and it's so-called curse or fuku) than it does to the fat, girl-challenged nerdy writer who loves “The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and aspires to be the Dominican Tolkien. Diaz, now 38, burst on the literary scene in 1996 with his well-received collection of short stories, "Drown," which critics and readers both loved. I've been meaning to read it for some time, and when I learned he was coming out with a novel, I figured the timing was perfect: I'd sample his lone collection of short stories, get a flavor for his style, and then progress to the novel. Unfortunately, the library's sole copy has been checked out for weeks, so I didn't get to read "Drown" before experiencing "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which happens to be one of the most erratic, ill-conceived and annoying books I've ever encountered.The book begins with short-lived promise. We meet dorky Oscar as a high school sophomore living in Paterson, N.J., with his mother, Belicia; his sister, Lola; and his heroin-addicted uncle, who plays a minor, insignificant role. The mother had been born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s. The kids' father, whom she met on the plane to the states, took off a long time ago, and the story of his flight from domesticity is about the only case of love-gone-bad that isn't described in excruciating detail in this book.Crazy love is the family's curse or fuku, which is the superstitious element of magical realism that threads through the novel."No matter what its name or provenance, it is believed that the arrival of Europeans on Hispaniola unleashed the fuku on the world, and we've all been in the (bleep) ever since," says the sometime narrator, Yunior, the onetime boyfriend of Oscar's sister, whose name and identity won't be revealed until halfway through the book, and for no other reason than Diaz wants to torture his readers. (That's the only reason I could glean, anyway.)So, Oscar's personal fuku is that he loves girls, but they don't love him. And basically, they don't love him because he doesn't look like Enrique Iglesias. To hear Diaz tell it, Oscar's the only Dominican who doesn't."Had none of the Higher Powers of your typical Dominican male, couldn't have pulled a girl if his life depended on it. Couldn't play sports for (bleep), dominoes, was beyond uncoordinated, threw a ball like a girl. Had no knack for music or business or dance, no hustle, no rap, no G. And most damning of all: no looks. He wore his semi-kink hair in a Puerto Rican afro, rocked enormous Section 8 glasses…sported an unappealing trace of mustache on his upper lip and possessed a pair of close-set eyes that made him look somewhat retarded."Yunior goes on, "Perhaps if he'd been like me he'd been able to hide his otakuness maybe (bleep) would have been easier for him, but he couldn't. Dude wore his nerdiness like a Jedi wore his light saber or a Lensman her lens. Couldn't have passed for Normal if he'd wanted to."At this point, we don't who the narrator is or what his relationship to Oscar might be. Truthfully, wanting to know does help drag the reader through the novel. But learning the identity isn't ultimately rewarding; it's annoying.Early on, the forward momentum of the novel stalls and the narrative flashes back in time and focuses on Lola, the sister, and how she ran away from home in the 1990s; and then to the mother, Belicia, and how she was a star-crossed lover herself in the Dominican Republic. The mother's section of the book lasts 90 pages and covers the years 1955-1962. A wise reader would have quit the 335-page book at this point, because "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" had morphed into "The Bloated Family Background of Oscar Wao." But I read on, waiting for it to get better. Unfortunately, it never did, and the reasons seem clear.Not only is the narrative timeline all over the place, but important information -- be it dialogue or exposition -- is often relayed in Spanish. Now, I took two semesters of the language in college and yet I had no idea what characters were saying in many parts, because context didn't lend hints. If Diaz is aiming this book towards a bilingual audience, then so be it. But how difficult would it have been to translate the Spanish in footnotes? The book is already rife with footnotes anyway, which mainly serve to explain the history of the brutal dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Throw a gringo a bone.In describing how Belicia, Oscar's mother, had developed a brash attitude as a teenager (while living in the Dominican Republic with her adoptive mother, La Inca), Diaz writes, "Those of you who have stood at the corner of 142nd and Broadway can guess what it was she spoke: the blunt, irreverent cant of the pueblo that gives all dominicanos cultos nightmares on their 400-thread-count sheets and that La Inca had assumed perished along with Beli's first life in Outer Azua, but here it was so alive, it was like it had never left: Oye, pariguayo, y que paso con esa esposa tuya? Gordo, no me digas que tu todavia tienes hambre."Uh, no comprende, amigo?A lack of Spanish skills won't be the only thing that keeps you from enjoying this book. Beyond its organizational problems, the literary devices in play -- the magical realism, the comic book references, and the fat, supposedly lovable title character -- make the book feel derivative of Jorge Luis Borges, Michael Chabon ("The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay"), and "A Confederacy of Dunces."Towards the end of the novel, Yunior, the narrator, is describing Oscar's last great love, a semi-retired prostitute named Ybon. He says, "I know I've thrown a lot of fantasy and sci-fi in the mix but this is supposed to be a true account of the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Can't we believe that an Ybon can exist and that a brother like Oscar might be due a little luck after twenty-three years?"This is your chance. If blue pill, continue. If red pill, return to the Matrix."Too bad that offer came so late - on page 285. Do yourself a favor and take the red pill now. Return to the Matrix and don't read this book.. This is an alternate cover edition for 9781594483295 Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R Tolkien and, most of all, finding love But Oscar may never get what he wants Blame the fuk a curse that has haunted Oscar s family forThis is an alternate cover edition for 9781594483295 Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R Tolkien and, most of all, finding love But Oscar may never get what he wants Blame the fuk a curse that has haunted Oscar s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA Encapsulating Dominican American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere and risk it all in the name of love.. The best Kindle The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao I want to know all about your family, your childhood, your grandparents, their childhood, etc, etc, I want to know where you lived, what food you ate, what games you played or didn't play. I want to know why this is important to you or that is not. Which is why I LOVED this book! Junot Diaz takes 300+ pages to tell a story about a boy that wants to be kissed and the kiss MATTERS because we know his family, we know his friends, we know their superstitions and their pains, and their loses and their survivals and by the time we get to page 339 we know why the kiss is so important.Oscar goes on the short list of book characters that will stay with me forever.