Daryl Nash's Reviews > The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
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Nov 24, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: wanted-to-throw-across-the-room
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I wanted to like this book. Much of it I did like. Nearly all of the genre references are spot on. And it was a quick, smooth read, with witty and smart writing. Also, it was good Spanish practice since probably a tenth of the novel is en espanol.

But:
About half of it turns out to be of the generational family saga ilk that seems so popular in the mainstream these days, and which I dislike.
Except for one unfortunate chica, every girl or woman in the book is beautiful. And the primary motivation for every character appears to be sex.
The POV bugged the hell out of me. Most of it is told by Yunior, who is a bit of a dick. Oscar's sister Lola gets some screen time of her own, with no explanation for the POV shift--though there is the suggestion that the text has been written for Lola's daughter at the end. And none of it is actually from Oscar's POV, though the book is ostensibly about him.
There are several cliches, some of which Diaz lampshades, but still.

I guess I wanted a different book. I wanted a book told from Oscar's perspective. I would have preferred if Oscar had lived, since there was no real point or poignancy to his death other than the fulfilling of the title. The brief snippets of dialogue we get from Oscar give him an oddly stilted voice that would have been great to explore, especially if given a chance to grow and change over the course of the novel. Instead of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the book should have been titled A Brief History of the Fuku of the deLeon's (As Told to a Friend of the Family). Not quite as catchy, I know.
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01/22/2009 page 160
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