Erin's Reviews > The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
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's review
Jan 10, 2009

it was ok
Read in December, 2008

I picked this book up when I was stranded at O'Hare on Christmas Eve. I have to say, I was surprised to find something a little more on the obscure side amongst the paperback bestsellers, all of which are "now a major motion picture." (If I have to see that stupid Marley dog again, I will punch someone.) I must've read the first 100 or so pages in a few hours, which is saying a lot - it is definitely a breezy read. However, I am beginning to think that the last few years of Pulitzer prize winners are not exactly my cup of tea.

I think this book is definitely worthy of reading, if purely for entertainment purposes. Inother words, I don't consider it a complete waste of time, and it's really a shame it isn't better because there are a lot of great ideas in it. I would never have known about the nasty reign of Trujillo or much about the D.R. if I had not read this book - something I will now seek out as further non-fiction reading material. However, I found parts of this book superfluous, verbose, and sometimes even childish. The number of astericks leading to footnotes is astronomical, and really distracting, even if they are fascinating historical tidbits. The finished product seems like it can't decide if it wants to be historical or narrative. The amount of Spanish used I am fine with, but did he really have to use it liberally in such pivotal parts of the story? The story is weaved through the perspectives of many characters, which I usually find interesting, but with the exception of Lola's story, all of the characters seem much like the same person and haven't been as developed as necessary (especially for it to win the Pulitzer!) Not to harp on feminine issues, but did he really have to express how fucking hot all of the girls in the story were? I thought this was a bit overdone, even if he was trying to show the way it is for his people, or boys of a certain time in their adolescence...

I read it rather quickly, but after all, I'm not really sure there was any moral or complex point. To be honest, it doesn't even really focus on Oscar as much as the title would suggest. It seems like many of the ideas were less developed, intricate journeys into the psyche than precisely just ideas. At times, I even found it just a bit too predictable and dramatic to be moving. And believe me, there is a lot of drama, but not much sincere feeling to back it up. The parts that were meant to be meaningful just seem forced and in turn aren't effective.

If you are stranded in an airport, it might be a fun book to start and leave in the flap of the seat in front of you. I would much rather find this than "Marley and Me."

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message 1: by Kirstie (new) - added it

Kirstie Picking up books at the airport...that's something I would do.

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