Apple Crisp
In Westchester, Economy Is The Number One Concern, But Agreement Stops There

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Oscar-wao This is the story of a nerdy, overweight Dominican-American guy who is searching for love. Oscar lives in New Jersey and he loves science fiction, comic books and - in a painfully unrequited way - women. Early on the narrator informs us that Oscar's family is haunted by "fuku," a curse which haunts generation after generation. We follow the family history back to the Domincan Republic where we learn about his mother's painful past, as well as about the series of disasters that befell his grandparents.

All along the way, our narrator charts the course of Domincan history during the period when Rafael Trujillo, a brutal dictator, ran the country and persecuted the bourgeoisie, and just about anyone else who got in his way. (That includes those who wouldn't quickly turn over their daughters to him for his sexual pleasure.)

 There's a lot going on in this book - it jumps around in point of view, in location, in time and in structure. Most of the family's story is told in the main narrative; the political nightmare that was Trujillo is mostly told in footnotes. The story also mixes up languages - it is written in English, but there's a great deal of Spanish slang as well. (I could have used a Spanish/English dictionary, but I was too lazy.)

I'm not sure if this duality (narrative/footnotes, English/Spanish, family/country) structurally reflects the immigrant experience, or if it is more illustrative of a younger author. Junot Diaz was in his 30s when he wrote the book, and  in my experience, younger people tend to present things in a less linear way.

In any event, the book was intense and haunting. It was also funny in places. The book group was pretty positive on balance. And evidently so was the committee that awarded Diaz with the Pulitizer Prize, which may carry just a little bit more weight as a recommendation.

And Melanie, our host, made a paella. If you don't think what we ate is relevant, then you don't know my Book Group.



One curious picture from Junot Diaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Woa will stay with me: a man hanged by his crushed gonads. Sex and power-related motives drive the action, such as the quest for blossoming of bosoms of 15-year-olds, always a treasure to their powerful partakers. Poor Oscar is doomed of course, as the title warns us; he flails through his time in search of love.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)