This is an entertaining piece of historical fiction. It's engrossing though long, making for a good summer beach read. Written in the 1970s, there areThis is an entertaining piece of historical fiction. It's engrossing though long, making for a good summer beach read. Written in the 1970s, there are plenty of aspects that don't stand up as well to scholarly cultural or to historical criticism, but I would suggest one make allowances for creative license and enjoy the story. Further research can help those inclined readers discover more accurate information about Japanese history....more
You almost have to be under 20 to be able to appreciate this work. At that age at least you're paralleling the energy and passionate attempts of Ray aYou almost have to be under 20 to be able to appreciate this work. At that age at least you're paralleling the energy and passionate attempts of Ray and Japhy to find out about things and yourself while trying to carve out a space and personality in the world around you.
Any older and this just comes off as average repetitive writing with incredibly dated and poorly construed understandings of Buddhism. It was short and otherwise largely forgettable.
For a much better work on a similar theme that stands up to rereading as an adult, try Maugham's The Razor's Edge.
Ferrante is an excellent writer. Her ability to write a coherent saga without unnecessary filler, develop characters, and show the complexities of friFerrante is an excellent writer. Her ability to write a coherent saga without unnecessary filler, develop characters, and show the complexities of friendship and growing up are simply amazing and beautiful. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the last two books and the series, and so far at least, believe that this is one of the best family/friendship sagas in literature....more
3 stars is maybe a bit generous, but I thought the work was written with an interesting style/voice that is not common in mass market lit.
Oscar is a3 stars is maybe a bit generous, but I thought the work was written with an interesting style/voice that is not common in mass market lit.
Oscar is a the ultimate stereotype of nerd nice guy who pities himself while being incapable of growing up and learning how to interact with women in a healthy normal fashion. The "redemption" if you could call it that was all too brief and inept, which while unsatisfying, was entirely believable for the character.
Some people have posted reviews condemning the rampart misogyny in the work and how it is playing up to "latin stereotypes." No judgments directly address this in the work, but I felt it was so overt that it was an intentional foil for the expectation Oscar was trying to live up to and how far he was from that trope. I also read it as somewhat of a satire of the stereotype with Oscar as the counter-hero. That could be off from the author's intent, but it didn't bother me as much as others in this work. I see where other people could certainly feel differently reading it though, and I certainly find misogyny and "nice guy" entitlement problematic in our current society.
Other people were frustrated with the amount of Spanish and Spanish cursing in the book. There's a lot, and not being able to understand it would result in missing out on some of the tone and feeling that is important to the work. I am not sure if that was Diaz's attempt to assert his Latin roots or be experimental with blending languages in a work for the English mass market lit crowd, but it could certainly be frustrating to those unable to understand it.
The largest flaw for me though was the character manipulation. Some were handled well and looked at in depth, while others just appeared and were never fleshed out. These included the uncle, narrator, and servants. It detracted from the overall reading experience.
Despite the flaws, I found it an interesting read and good change of pace. Not deep or heavy lit, but an interesting enough story to check out. ...more