7/15/2008

The Brief and Disappointing Life of Oscar Wao

So I fell in love with Junot Diaz's writing after reading his short story "The Sun, the Moon, the Stars" a few years ago. I then read his collection of short stories Drown, which was pretty enjoyable as well. And a few days ago, I was finally able to read his critically acclaimed first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which he won the Pulitzer prize for Fiction (a very big deal)...and I was disappointed...

Here's the Wikipedia plot summary:

The novel chronicles not just the "brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao," an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey and obsessed with science fiction, fantasy and women, but also the curse of the "fuk├║" that has plagued Oscar's family for generations and the Caribbean since colonization and slavery. The middle sections of the novel center on the lives of Oscar's mother Beli and his grandfather Abelard under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Rife with footnotes, science fiction and fantasy references, and street Spanglish, the novel is also a meditation on story-telling, Dominican diaspora and identity, masculinity, and the contours of authoritarian power.
Don't get me wrong it was a good book, but after all that hype, I thought it was going to be a lot better than what it was. I hate HATE reading reference notes at the bottom of a page because it always messes up my reading flow, and Diaz thought using reference notes would be a really good idea to add slightly lengthy back stories to the main story. The novel is told from several different points of view and different time periods; however, I thought that the main focus should have been on what was going on in Oscar's life, seeing as he was the title character. Diaz lingered for way too long on the life of Oscar's mother and how she came to be the way she was.

I guess I'll just have to wait until Diaz's next effort, and hopefully, it will be able to live up to the hype.

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