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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a good book. I liked it. It was swell. The nerdy Dominican Oscar de Leon gives the novel a stand out character. He's memorable. As is the repeating history of events: the beating, the mongoose, the faceless man. Haunting. Affecting. There's also this wonderful story about love. That's good. I enjoyed the casual tone of the book, the importance of one kiss, and the relationships between Oscar and his family. At its core, ...Oscar Wao is a story that is hard to shake.

I like Díaz. And I like this novel. But I don't love this one. Personally, I didn't buy the primary narrator. The voice felt forced. I know a lot of people love Yunior, but he never connected with me, which is ironic considering I loved Drown and seem to remember liking the narrator (who was none other than Yunior). That whole I'm urban-I'm cool-I can speak nerd-I'm a playa-I care thing didn't work—not that it couldn't work for me, but it just didn't feel genuine in this one. And the history. History's cool, but it really made for a drawn out story. It took too long to pick up the pace.

I know people love this story. And I do too. The story is great. But it just felt like one fabulous forty page story stretched to unnecessary lengths, a tale told by someone who made me very uncomfortable. Oscar's story shouldn't make me uncomfortable. Uneasiness is what I'd expect from The Apathetic Antics of Yunior de Las Casas, but not from Oscar. Oscar's just too good to do that to.