Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Like I mentioned in my last post, I haven’t been reading as much lately. That said, I was too tempted by The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao to not read it. It might have taken me longer than usual, but I did it! I started it while on a business trip with my Mom (long story) but then put it down when I got back home. I picked it up again over the long weekend when Jeff and I ferried our asses over to our Orcas Island hide-out (also known as his parent’s cabin).

I think I first read about this book on Raych’s blog and was intrigued. Then it appeared on the EW New Classics List. Then my sister-in-law gave it to me for Christmas. Obviously, I HAD to read it. And it was pretty amazing really. Very different from the stuff I’ve been reading lately. The whole book is centered around the Dominican culture, with the plot twisting in and out of New Jersey and The Dominican Republic.

Oscar Wao is a giant Dominican dork. Which is apparently a bit of an oxymoron because Dominican men are all supposed to be major players and have mad game. Oscar however is obese and loves, loves, loves anime and everything medieval and mystical. He lives in New Jersey with his angry Mother and lovely sister Lola and wonders if he’ll die a virgin. The story bobs and weaves (sometimes a little too much for my liking) so that you end up getting to hear about his Mother’s childhood in the DR, his grandparent’s destruction by the evil dictator Trujillo, his sister, and Oscar’s college roommate, Yunjior.

Truthfully the author had me hooked on page two when he used the phrase Fuckface. I know that’s a little inappropriate and maybe weird that I loved it so much. But fuckface is a funny thing to say! And he was using the word in a *footnote* which is ironic because footnotes are supposed to be all official and serious. The book is totally fresh and different and really brilliant. The stuff about Oscar’s interest in Elvish, Tolkien, role playing games and basically anything dorky was hilarious. Learning about Dominican history is heartbreaking and interesting and Oscar’s story in particular is captivating. Definitely not uplifting, but captivating (remember it IS his “brief” life). My only complaint about the book is that the narration was confusing sometimes. I couldn’t really tell who was narrating half the time. Was it Yunjior, Lola, objective third person? It felt like it skipped around constantly, but maybe this is more a symptom of my recent affliction with reading A.D.D.?


T. Griffin said...

now I gotta read it, fuckface is a common term in my house, usually prempted by Hey and followed up by quit your barking.

So can I borrow it?

softdrink said...

The fuckface footnote hooked me, too. I feel so adolescent (you know, the "heh...dirty word" reaction) admitting it, but I love that casual style.

Bybee said...

OK I feel better about confessing: He had me at fuckface as well. In a footnote. I was in book love.

Care said...

I was as intrigued by the foul language, but the book is fresh and new. We read it for my book club and most people didn't finish it due to the language, the spanish, and footnotes. I am glad I finished and felt like I gained much from Oscar's life.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I must be a prude. I am glad to read your review and the comments below because I have now read the word fuckface more in the last 2 minutes than I ever wanted to in my life. Happy to leave Oscar and the foul language to you guys. I don't judge anyone for writing or reading whatever you want. Hurray for freedom of speech, but I am now sitting here wondering what kind of language would be offensive to you. Maybe the politically incorrect stuff would hit a nerve. Oh well, It's nice to know there are others out there reading like mad as I do. Have a great day. Happy reading!

raych said...

The footnotes were what pushed it into Awesome-ville for me. Glad you liked it.

Also, oh Anonymous commenter, you are so...vague? Happy reading to you too.

cranky rae said...

Raych's comment = awesome. Kudos to you and all your foul language-loving followers.

I'm so getting this book this week.

Karen said...

Sounds like a really interesting book. The author was in Australia last year and I heard a few interviews with him and have been meaning to pick up the book since then. Will have to get to it.