Friday, September 11, 2009

"Of what import are brief, nameless lives... to Galactus?"

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

I fell in love with Junot Díaz after the first few minutes reading this book. Simple as that. I actually ran to get his collection of short-stories, that's how much in awe of his writing I was.

And why was that?

It's, in a word, fresh. A mix of street-hardened spanglish (not bastardized, mind you, just an abundance of Latin-American Spanish expressions) with nerdcore galore (it's not every book that manages to compare Trujillo with Darkseid, I'll tell you that much!), it just leaps from the page, at times sounding like something that shouldn't be read but lived, if that makes sense.

The main character (for this book deals not only with Oscar but with his family and his people) is, well, a big fat nerd. No two ways around it, Oscar is a gamer, a comic book nerd, a sci-fi geek that simply does not function well within the real world.

And don't we all know someone like that (trust me, I used to work in a comic book shop)?

We are swept in by his family, his problematic sister, his larger than life mother, the saintly grannie (you might call it a cliche, but heck, she reminds me of my grandmother, it's a very Latin trait in a way!), his quasi-brother-in-law but, in the background (the soul of the book itself), there are always the Dominicanos. Their culture, their history, their curses.Díaz makes a point of filling you in on episodes of the Trujillato so that you'll have an idea of how the Dominican soul was broken and how it still affects its descendants to this day, even when they ran away to far off Nueva York.Fukú weights heavily in Oscar and Lola's shoulders. And there's no running away from curses.

This book is undoubtedly a joy to read, although I wonder how other readers will take its usage of Spanish slang and the many, many, MANY nerd references* that more than temper the book marinate it.

A worthy Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner and a solid 5 stars for me!

*And "Grodd" is spelt with two Ds, Díaz, TWO Ds!!


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