Reads: The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao

3:37 PM

If ever the term 'epic failure' was to be applied to my life, it would be at this moment. I have never felt as much wonder/anger/enjoyment in my life after finishing a book as I have when I closed this book, flipped it over to the cover, traced the lettering of the title, and finally exhaled. What kind of impact will it make on my life? Will/can I apply anything that I learned from this to my life? Will I become a more open-minded person? I don't know. I wish I did. I sometimes believe that the lighter, fluffier literature that I read has more of an impact at times. I know that your favorite book or author cannot cover all genres, and I don't want to be so quick to replace David Sedaris as my literary hero, however...

I am beyond frustrated with myself that I did not read this book before meeting Junot Diaz, then again, what would I say? That I am a product of my environment and have had no exposure to any Dominican culture other than when Carla ripped Turk new one every time he forgot what her nationality was until she finally broke into song during that musical episode of Scrubs, singing her aggravation away to her husband? That I had to keep the internet close-by while reading in order to translate the few phrases that I just did not understand, regardless of the context it was in? That I understood each and every Tolkien, and Star Trek reference that was made and that I would chance learning to play D&D if it meant that I could be Oscar's friend? But then again knowing Oscar's track record with women, would my attempt at friendship conduct more damage than good? I don't know. I don't think I can even manage a decent review of the book, but I will try. Because even though at times I wanted to hurl it across the room, even though at times I had to reach for tissue because the text was so blurred by my hot tears, even though I received many a disproving stares in public for laughing out loud so hard I thought I would piss myself, "The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao" has become one of my favorite books that I have ever read.
Oscar Wao is a misinterpretation of Oscar Wilde in the book, however, the nickname sticks. "The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao" is written in a series of pros, where the narrator is anything but unreliable. There is a blatantly honest tone as the reader is directed into the lives of one family, struggling with an ancient curse that tears a destructive path for generations. The reader is learned through layers of stories of struggle and series of facts, blended and mashed together to eventually form Oscar, the ghetto-nerd who would appear to be too innocent if he wasn't coated in the curse. 

Oscar is the polar opposite of the females in his family, he is weak, he is unattractive, he has a great love for the sci-fi fantasy world and for food, and most importantly,  even though he fails miserably each and every opportunity, women. Oscar fails in almost every way at being a true Dominican. There is a great fear in him that he might die a virgin, blasphemy to Dominican males everywhere. Readers follow his life, set in what we assume is sometime in the 1990's, as well as taking trips to the past through the narrator, who's calm anxiety to get the story to us readers is apparent through each and every f-bomb peppering the pages, but is to be expected when our narrator has to educate the readers on the nature and rein of Trujillo, who is an enormous factor in the story.

Junot Diaz

When reading about all the pain and destruction the family has gone through, the reader might wonder why in the hell they all have to be so damn strong-willed and stubborn. Whether they believe in the curse or not, it all comes full-circle. Each and every time. When Oscar finally accepts the curse, his battle is both the same, and yet very different from his predecessors. In the end, our narrator is left with a bigger job then what he set out for, and even though many questions for us readers have been answered, the story is left with an unpredictable ending: Hope. 

 This completes my first book for 2011. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested, but it just might not be for the faint of heart.

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13 Musings

  1. I'm so glad you came across this author. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Its great when you find a book like this that inspires you. Thanks!

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  3. Sounds very interesting. I'll have to check it out eventually. I'm mid-Catch 22 at the moment, so that will take me a while. Have you ever read Augusten Burroughs' stuff?

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  4. I've had this book in my 'to be read' pile for SUCH a long time.
    And when I saw that you were reviewing it in my dashboard feed, I thought for some reason you thought it was terrible!
    At least I read on, and now, I can safely say I think it will scoot its way up the line to be my next read.
    yum yum.
    <3

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  5. Wow, first book of the year to complete! Go you. Love your review.

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  6. i should read this is looks fantastic. everyone here is dominican/colombian/mexican and their distinctive-yet-latin cultures are fascinating.

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  7. Well-written and informative review. I'm especially impressed at your attempt to draw lessons and apply them to your life. That's a fertile and productive mind you've got there.

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  8. i read this book last fall -- it had some pace issues i think, but overall, wow. what a story teller! i am planning on reading Drowned soon!

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  9. What an interesting review. Sounds fascinating!

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  10. I love you for adding book reviews into the mix of She is Sara! This sounds absolutely fantastic - I am always looking for new books to delve into! :)

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  11. Great book review! It sounds pretty heavy but I like it! Thank you for opening up a new discovery! xooxxoo

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  12. Thx so much for sharing, definitely gonna pick this up some time soon!

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Talk nerdy to me.