Although I've been leery of Pulitzer winners for some time now, I decided to pick up Oscar Wao by weight of its subject alone. I have spent a good deaAlthough I've been leery of Pulitzer winners for some time now, I decided to pick up Oscar Wao by weight of its subject alone. I have spent a good deal of time reading Caribbean literature with a specific eye for Haitian and Dominican variety. Worth a shot, I figure.
i got a lot of what I signed up for. It was an absorbing read, funny and irreverent toward subjects that would have thrown less balanced contemporary writers into a meladramatic frenzy of carefully calculated sickly-sachrine spiritual observances. The nerd in me rejoiced at references to some of my favorite works of fiction and thrilled at the device of evoking greater significance for an idea through those references. For example, the cyclical nature of the Dominican fuku, its effect on Oscar's life, and his attitude toward it gained an almost epic stature because of the reference to the final panels of The Watchmen. It made me understand the book as a sort of trick - a mirror reflecting a mirror reflecting a mirror ad nausea or a Russian doll. Each character is set inside the others back through history. Everyone has the burden of their history inside them and will issue that same burden forward. Nothing ever ends. That Oscar ultimately welcomes his fuku as something brilliant and beautiful, that he stands shouting "life!" in the face of oblivion, that he alters the face of his history to be a sort of triumph, is the beauty of the novel and its worth.
Further, on another level, Oscar Wao has some interesting concepts of identity, Dominican, American, and all their subcategories. The moments in which Oscar speaks Spanish are a significant acknowledgement of an inherited nationality that he was never allowed to claim due to his more prominent nerd/fat kid attributes. The novel was the story of the subtle realization of power and courage in the most unlikely of heroes....more
Oh my. What a little gem this was. I have to say, I don't generally expect such eloquently turned phrases in sci-fi, which I tend to think of as a funOh my. What a little gem this was. I have to say, I don't generally expect such eloquently turned phrases in sci-fi, which I tend to think of as a function over form sort of genre, but I was more than a little impressed with the literary quality of this piece. Very fleshed out, very 'whole' as far as this sort of thing goes. And that's to say nothing of the pure thrill of the book. I was positively riveted after the modest pace of the first quarter of the novel picked up. I admit to having a bit of an issue with suspension of disbelief in general and was a little nervous that I'd have a hard time buying into all the different races, but I was quickly put at ease by the grace with which they were handled. In short, I'm sold....more