Reviews in 200 Words

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

In Novel on March 3, 2010 at 2:22 am

The fuku (curse of doom) takes many different forms–it spans all ages, classes and situations. And, without apology or explanation, Diaz crosses cultures and languages and sets the bullshit of growing up right out there. Doom sits heavy on the shoulders of teenagers–it’s inevitable. It sits especially heavy on the shoulders of the nerdy, chubby, sci-fi writer-wannabe, Oscar, who is undoubtedly our star. But actually, much of this story centers on other characters. One story within the story is that of Oscar’s mother, Beli: tough as nails woman with a hell of a life behind her. And hilarious; when it first dawns on her that men, “like her a fucking lot,” she starts using that knowledge. She has affairs with older men: attractive men, men “like God’s hot son.” Diaz presents the language of men and women; what’s said is never what’s meant: never. But men and women are more similar than not, and, “like recognizes like.” Diaz is deliciously raunchy: things are messy and violent and scaring, but if they weren’t, there would be no progress–no moving forward. Diaz offers commentary on this tale as he tells it, because it’s complicated and crazy. He reminds us that the Dominican, like doom embodied, is real and close.

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