this is one of those books that i desperately wanted to love. i wanted to praise it and find it a place deep in my heart, but at the end of the day......morethis is one of those books that i desperately wanted to love. i wanted to praise it and find it a place deep in my heart, but at the end of the day... it's like the middle child of the brood, you know? sorry honey, you're just not my favorite kid. mommy doesn't love you. one of these days you were going to grow up and find out so why not just own up now. (oh, that and you're adopted.)
No but seriously. it's wonderful in concept: some sort of elliptical, intertwining he-said/she-said love story taking place in the vast glorious expanse of the American open road... But where House of Leaves managed to use the visual in a way that pushed the story forward, the play with color and unconventional formatting just underlined the fact that at the heart of it, the concept is way better than the final product. Compounded with the fact that the entire story is written in this stream-of-consciousness Beat-era sleaze--that ok fine, does indeed embody the mindset of Youth--the end result is again something that is a constant confusing struggle for the reader... and damned near impossible to parse.
Oh but how I wanted to love it... I really did. (less)
Heady stuff that is at arm's reach unless you force yourself to totally immerse into the world he's created. It's a shame I read this post-Matrix-tril...moreHeady stuff that is at arm's reach unless you force yourself to totally immerse into the world he's created. It's a shame I read this post-Matrix-trilogy and after we've all become comfortably adapted to an ingrained "cyberspace" experience that makes the term seem so quaint and antiquated now. Regardless, clearly an epic benchmark in sci-fi... (less)
It's funny when you approach a book with absolutely no pre-conceived notions of what it could potentially be or what other people claim it is. I mean,...moreIt's funny when you approach a book with absolutely no pre-conceived notions of what it could potentially be or what other people claim it is. I mean, no pre-conceived notions other than "oh hey, pulitzer prize... can't be so horrible, right?" So part of me thinks, I should give you the same courtesy... because by the looks of it, all the folks who gave the book one-star (one??? seriously??? this baffles me. someone has to explain why the one.) were all misled into thinking it was some sort of raucous comedic journey full of belly-laughs. Amazingly witty and peppered with dark, playful humor, yes it is; slapstick comedy, no sorry it is not.
But look. This is a master-fucking-piece interweaving the parallel stories of a cursed Dominican family and the brutality of the Trujillo regime. And I'm sorry, but anyone who can move so fluidly from English to Spanish to fuck-patois to Nerdly-Dungeons-and-Dragons-Eye-of-motherfucking-Sauron diction all in a single sentence without it sounding heavy-handed and completely insane gets a tip of my hat. I guess in all honesty it is the fierce wordsmithing itself rather than the plot that drove this book home for me.
But fret not, gentle readers, Diaz's verbal acrobatics won't make you want to throttle him. You won't imagine him sitting there basking in his oh-so-clever pretentious rephrasing of a simple sentence whilst looking all pleased with himself. pleased pleased pleased. so very pleased. (ahem mr. eggers et wallace et al.) The harsh, angry Spanish slang and the curious "space opera" formal English all work together to create a beautifully fully-fleshed story (har) of a certain Latino culture, of a fat nerdboy hungering for love, of cyclical family curses, and... oh read the book jacket for a "summary." you get the point.(less)
Yes yes it reads beautifully with its simple, sweet narrative and its lovable, wise shepherd. Yes yes people draw comparisons between it and Le Petit...moreYes yes it reads beautifully with its simple, sweet narrative and its lovable, wise shepherd. Yes yes people draw comparisons between it and Le Petit Prince or other such desert-bound, insightful, "how-to-live-your-life" pick-me-uppers. But you know what. I'm currently at a point where novels that act as thinly veiled pieces of bullshit dogmatic philosophy grate my ever-lovin' nerves. This along with the Fountainhead, and the Celestine Prophecy, just need to go away and return to me when I am hitting my mid-life crisis and desperately clinging to anything that will make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I don't care how lovely the story or how captivating the characters... I don't need a self-help book in the clever guise of fiction to be sneaking onto my shelf right now. 'Tis a wolf in sheep's clothing. Be wary of anyone who gives this book to you as a gift. They are simply trying to tell you to get off your lazy posterior and "follow your dream." Maybe even literally.
That being said, I would be a cold-hearted stubborn liar if I didn't admit to enjoying it while I was in the act of reading it. But the fact of the matter is, I'm left with a sour taste in my mouth laden with frustration at Unwarranted Capitalization that is used with Earnest and the pretty, but skin-deep narrative that leaves little but a vaguely "inspirational" message that could be summed up with three words rather than an allegorical piece of an extended trope. I'm still sitting here battling with my gut reaction of enjoying the story and my intellectual revulsion at the sugary hollowness of the literature. (less)
This re-read could not have come at a better time deep in the midst of existential crisis #522. This is the clever tragicomic meta-play of two minor c...moreThis re-read could not have come at a better time deep in the midst of existential crisis #522. This is the clever tragicomic meta-play of two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet. They are summoned, they bumble about, they play questions, they are entirely confounded by the hubbub surrounding the "much transformed" Prince of Denmark, and then they are sent to their feeble deaths as demanded by the grand scheme of the play. While the dialogue and physical antics of Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and the Tragediens are comical and laden with puns, the play serves as a philosophical musing on life, the futility of it, and the cruel haphazard nature of creation (and death). But... um... all in good fun of course.
I can't imagine this being particularly interesting reading if you haven't read Hamlet or if you don't enjoy pointless witticisms and humor in the absurd.
The play always leaves me thinking that maybe we're all just minor characters summoned from nothing to pass the time idly waxing philosophic and idiotic while we wait to fulfill our minor role after which we make our sad, pathetic exit without applause or encore. But... um... in a fun(ny) way, I promise you...(less)
kind of a rough cut early edition of his usual cynical musings... it's really only good after you read his more polished works (read shortcomings!) an...morekind of a rough cut early edition of his usual cynical musings... it's really only good after you read his more polished works (read shortcomings!) and can thus appreciate the birth of optic nerve. it's like getting the opportunity to flip through his personal sketchbook and witness all the raw genius before it becomes massaged into perfection. little vignettes of bitterness that are the epitome of generation y fretful longing and deep attachment to self-eviscerating irony. (less)