The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao discussion


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message 1: by Sherry (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sherry Let's start discussing this on the 15th of May, 2008.


Linda Sounds good.


Ruddy Hi. Any chance you might know where I can find some discussion questions for this book? There is a group of us reading this and when we are all done I want to sit down and have some sort of dialog about it with them. thanks.


Sherry Hey, is anyone going to start the official discussion? I have a house full of people and haven't finished the book, but I know scads of you have, because I had to hold you back up in there. Now it's time. I hope you all haven't forgotten it already. (People get crabby when they're approaching 60.)


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll start the discussion because I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. I'll bring up two things I found interesting. First, I heard Diaz say in an interview that he included many key lines in a foreign language so that English-speaking people could have the immigrant experience, that is, they (we) could know how it feels to be left out during key conversations. Second, I just finished Erdrich's THE PLAGUE OF DOVES, and it, like this book, was told through many points of view, various strands woven together to complete a narrative, all of them raising some questions but never answering all questions. I like that very much, and I find myself hungry for more books like that. Lastly, I want to say that I have a friend who's a major figure at Powell's Books in Oregon, and he was telling me that Diaz' editor had to fight everyone in the publishing house in order to get this book published, that is, nobody else at Riverhead wanted to see this thing in print. I think that's a major problem with publishing today; too many people are allowed to veto the publishing of a book. As a result, so many books getting published are pretty vanilla stuff because everything has to be concensus, and concensus literature, to my thinking, will always be rather dull. Could you imagine five people in a publishing house, a marketer included, all giving the go ahead for, say, THE SOUND AND THE FURY or SONG OF SOLOMON? I'm glad one gutsy, powerful editor was determined to see this book get into print.


D.G. I wasn't sure if I was the appropriate person to start the discussion because being Dominican and all, my thoughts will probably be very different from yours. But I guess somebody must start...

At the beginning, I was amused to see that the family seemed to believe so much en el fukú. After all, everything that goes wrong for any self-respecting Dominican can be blamed on that. Then I got angry (this book make me angry in a lot of levels) because it seemed to me this was an excuse to stay weak and not try to change whatever was wrong with their lives. It's a lot easier to blame something out of your control than trying to change.

Don't get me wrong, I know they all suffered. At a time when they should have been protected (as children) they were mistreated and wounded. But I think they stayed in that victim mode and either attacked the world like it was their enemy (Beli) or closed themselves in their own world (Oscar.) I don't respect either but I have more problems with Beli because her behavior was instrumental in the unhappiness of her children.


Ruth I read this book some months ago, and unfortunately the details have already blurred. I do remember thinking that I loved having a book where the epynonymous hero was an overweight comic-book reading nerd.

I heard the same interview you did, Erik. Previously I had thought the Spanish was there just for flavor. However, this trick of making us feel left out doesn't work for those of us who can read Spanish. I did like it though, just for the dash of spice.

It's interesting to hear your take on it, Diva. As a Dominican, do you think he caught the flavor of the community?


D.G. Oh yes. Dominicans in general are very fun loving, confianzudos (that is, they give opinions freely to everybody no matter if the person is a relative or a complete stranger), fatalists, very suspicious (you cannot ask anybody what are you doing? without them asking 'why do you want to know?' which I understand is a direct consequence from the Trujillo regime), machistas (even the women), very friendly and somewhat racists (this is a very complicated matter, that's why I'm saying somewhat although you would probably think we are complete racists) among other things. I think you could read all that in the book.

Dominican women tend to be very strong which I think was accurately portrayed in the book. Beli actually reminded me of one of my aunts which we call "La Faraona" (for real, that's how everybody in the family calls her.)

That bit of applauding when the plane lands used to embarrass me tremendously (yes, it's true) so I told my husband beforehand when we first travelled there together. However, I don't think I'll mind next week (I'll be visiting my parents.) For some reason when Oscar applauded during landing, it brought me to tears.


Theresa I enjoyed this book a lot, though not as much as I have JD's short stories, many of which feature Yunior. The Spanish didn't throw me since I speak Spanish well, although the slang was not always familiar to me (I'm from the west coast, so I know Mexican slang!) I actually thought the language switches were pretty restrained, compared to real life Spanglish I have heard.

I liked the footnotes, they gave a flavor and history without being too instrusive. And they were necessary since it seemd to me the book was directed more at Americans than Dominicans. If Junot told the same story with a Dominican audience in mind, I think it would have been told in a very different way, not just the footnotes but the structure and emphasis of the story itself. Diva, what do you think?

One thing I saw in this book that I've seen in some other recent novels is the de-emphasis of "immigration and adjustment" as the focus of the story. Junot is writing about Dominicans in both DR and the US, and immigration is part of the tale, but adjustment to a new country is not the main focus, as I think it might have been with an earlier generation of writers.

The numerous literary references were fun, both in the book and chapter titles, e.g. chapters called "Sentimental Education" and "The Three Heartbreaks of Belicia Cabral", etc.

Theresa





message 10: by D.G. (new) - rated it 4 stars

D.G. The emphasis would have been different but I don't think that much. I think he still would have had to do some footnotes because I'm not sure how up to date Dominicans are in their own history. I mean, everybody knows about the Mirabal sister and when Trujillo was "ajusticiado" (that's the way the call it, not 'killed') but I think that's about it. The Trujillo regime was not discussed EVER when I was at school there (don't know if that's changed.) I never thought of it until now but during my childhood/teenage years Balaguer was president so maybe that was the reason. I'm more up to date than most because my grandfather is still alive and used to talk about those days with us.

I felt that reverse acculturation was part of the problem with Oscar. He loved the Dominican culture and it hurt him that he wasn’t completely part of it. Remember how he kept saying “I’m Dominican” because most people told him he wasn’t. I’ve seen similar behavior in the children of immigrants. They are caught in this middle land where they don’t wholly belong to one place or the other so they try to choose one side: either by rejecting everything from the old country and being completely American or by embracing the old country so much they reject the culture they grew up with.


message 11: by Liz M (last edited May 18, 2008 06:34AM) (new) - added it

Liz M I haven't read enough of this novel to present my own thoughts about it yet, but speaking of footnotes the following is copied from an interview of Junot Diaz found at: http://www.slate.com/id/2177644/pagen...

Díaz: The footnotes are there for a number of reasons; primarily, to create a double narrative. The footnotes, which are in the lower frequencies, challenge the main text, which is the higher narrative. The footnotes are like the voice of the jester, contesting the proclamations of the king. In a book that's all about the dangers of dictatorship, the dangers of the single voice—this felt like a smart move to me.

Now I have to go back and read the footnotes, which I skipped on my first, too fast read.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I've been browsing through the book at the local Borders, and I would say that it has a genuine New York rhythm and feel to it. Admirable in that respect. Just one New Yorker's reaction, of course.


message 13: by Theresa (last edited May 18, 2008 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Theresa Ajusticiado (brought to justice, right?) seems much more apt than killed. Oddly, what little I know of Trujillo is mostly through novels, "Time of the Butterflies" and "Farming of Bones" come to mind. And, in "Collapse", Jared Diamond acknowledges that Trujillo was a very bad dude, but credits him with protecting DR's environment, as compared to what happened to Haiti under its own dictator.

Your comment that Oscar suffered from reverse acculturation is interesting. He did not exactly fit in anywhere, US or DR. But he was a very typical American kind of misfit to me - the pudgy, intelligent gamer boy who can't talk to girls and lives in a superhero fantasy world. College didn't change a thing for him, he was "stuck" in his adolescent life even after college (lived at home with mom, got a job teaching at the same high school he attended, still a virgin after all these years.) He finally found his heart back in DR, and followed it to the ultimate end.

Beli met (and escaped) death in the same cane fields in the DR. Oscar, years after Trujillo, met the same fate in the same place for similar reasons of the heart. He escaped once and willingly went back for a second round. I'm still puzzling over this. Was he supposed to be a martyr? A foolish kid living in a fantasy world who couldn't or wouldn't recognize reality? Was it a means of suicide (similar to what is called "suicide by cop")?

Liz, thanks for the link to the interview. Double narrative makes sense here. I didn't really see the footnotes challenging the text, more like explaining or supporting it, with facts and figures in contrast to the human drama taking place "above."

Theresa


message 14: by D.G. (new) - rated it 4 stars

D.G. I felt that not fitting for Oscar was worse because he had to contend with the ideal of the Dominican man (like Yunior, somebody who sleeps around with whomever woman is available and is always able to get women.) Funny thing, though, in my experience all this posturing is 'mucha espuma y poco chocolate' to quote an old merengue.

It was a means of suicide - remember he had already attempted it once and was lucky to have survived. I think he felt his choices were either to die like one of the heroes of his books or live a life of drudgery, ignored and being left out.


message 15: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Your comments concerning the footnotes were news to me. I purchased an audio version of this novel and listened to it during my drive to and from North Carolina over the past several days. Obviously, I missed a whole dimension of this book. I shall retrieve a print copy and return.


message 16: by Ruth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ruth Maybe the footnotes on the audio version were just read seamlessly into the text, Steve.


Theresa Yeah, Oscar had some big, big issues with trying to be the type of man he thought was expected of him. Funny, the men in this book avoid reality, Oscar with comics and fantasy, his uncle with drugs. The women don't are more realistic, and do a better job dealing with the world. Even Beli dealt; and Lola seemed to have no problem whatsoever - although all that frantic activity might have been her way of avoiding reality.

I think Diaz agrees with you that all that machismo is mere posturing. A lot of his characters get caught on their own petard as a result - witness Yunior losing his good thing with Lola . . .

Here is a link to a short, short story he had in the New Yorker last December that addresses this. If you read it, be sure to go to the second page - I almost missed it the first time and it has the last and telling paragraph.

http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/feat...

Steve, you can discuss without the footnotes, they add something but are not absoluely necessary.

Theresa


message 18: by Stephen (last edited May 20, 2008 05:52PM) (new)

Stephen As it turns out, Theresa, Ruthie was quite right. I had the benefit of the footnotes without realizing they were footnotes in the print edition. Also, I had the benefit of the reader’s inflection so that the Spanglish caused me fewer problems than it may have for those who read the book themselves.

Personally, I most enjoyed the section concerning Beli, whose body blossomed into a killer thing. I hung on the whole story of her affair with the gangster and her ultimate brutal beating.

The narrator is a really well done street voice. It is that narrator’s voice that makes this book in my opinion. I cannot remember when it first dawned on me that this was Yunior.

I did read the short story in The New Yorker, Theresa. I think it goes without saying that machismo is posturing, but is it not just another strategy for coping with the world? Are not all coping strategies posturing? In the case of this novel, though, it is the fact that Oscar plays so much against the macho Latin male stereotype that makes it original.




message 19: by D.G. (last edited May 22, 2008 04:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

D.G. The women were better with dealing with the world because they had to - they had the practicality of children to deal with. It was very easy for the men to forget themselves because they don't inherently carry the responsibility of another human being. I know Lola didn't have a child until the end but I think that for women, there's an evolutionary tendency towards practicality because of their child rearing responsibilities.

Thanks for pointing out the The New Yorker short story, Theresa. It was interesting though I wonder if Díaz has something else to talk about besides cheating bastards. These guys seemed like Yunior part deux. I'm not sure his behavior was a coping strategy but just this tendency of Dominican men to cheat because (they think) they can get away with it. Back in the day, men would have mistresses (my Grandfather had a few children out of wedlock that my Grandmother brought up) and their wives could say nothing about it (going back to my evolutionary mumblings, the men were the providers so the women had to keep the peace.) Now women can take care of themselves but men still think they can continue cheating as if it was their prerogative. Hopefully, we women would learn to understand that we are NOT tied to a man for a life and that we can find somebody better. I also hope that men would learn not to treat women for their personal pleasure.

Sorry if I sound like a man-hater, au contraire, I get along with men famously (my husband says I’m like Elaine from Seinfeld “A man’s woman.”) And I also don’t mean to imply that all Dominican men are cheaters. Nothing further from the truth.


message 20: by Stephen (last edited May 21, 2008 10:07AM) (new)

Stephen I was soooooo relieved to read your third paragraph, Diva. Midway through the second paragraph I was ready to personally apologize on behalf of all men. I was sweating there for a moment.


message 21: by Jane (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jane I really liked the humor in this book. I laughed when Yunior addressed the reader as "N*****" or (even funnier) as Negro. I know that that is the Spanish word for black, but it sounds very dated these days. When I was growing up, I was taught to refer to black people as colored people. Negro was not the word to use. I almost said African Americans instead of black people, but most of the people in the novel were from the DR, so they aren't African-Americans.

Jane


Wilhelmina Jenkins Thanks for posting the New Yorker site, Theresa. Since I'm still number 37 on the library queue for Oscar Wao, I'm glad that I at least have an idea of Diaz's writing style.


message 23: by D.G. (last edited May 22, 2008 05:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

D.G. Hahahaha, Steve! Sorry, didn't mean to make you sweat, it's just that I wanted to give some perspective on Díaz's cheating guys. He portrays them so sympathetically: "Poor me, I cheat because I don't have a choice, I really can't help chasing this other skirt... Poor, poor me, I'll lose the love of my life for ever just because I couldn't keep it in my pants! Why, oh, why???"

But the truth is that these are very selfish men and nobody should feel sorry for them.

Jane - In the DR, Negro can be pejorative but more often that not, is a form of endearment - when the diminutive is used like in "Negrita" - or if the augmentative is used as in "Negrote" or "Morenazo", it could be a expression of outright admiration. It mostly depend how people use it but in general, nobody is offended by the use of the word. Dominicans have a whole slew of words that attempt to describe skin colors.

This is probably going to be my last post for a week or so as I'm flying to the DR later today.


message 24: by Stephen (new)

Stephen This is terribly unfair of you, Diva, to toss off these observations and then so abruptly depart for the Dominican Republic. I have questions! Ah, well. I shall pose them in any event, and they shall abide your return.

I really did not come away with the impression that Junot Díaz portrayed promiscuous men sympathetically. Rather, I found him to be simply and keenly observant rather than judgmental, either favorably or unfavorably. But that may be a difference in our subjective impressions, yours and mine.

I was more curious about where these cheating Dominican males find all those females to cheat with. Let us assume these Dominican men’s wives and steady girlfriends are indeed victims of philandering. Are the other women they take up with also victims? If so, I think this credits these Dominican men with a silver-tongued eloquence that passeth human understanding. Is it not more probable that if (please mark my use of the word “if”) there is a distressingly large number of Dominican men who are wont to wander, then there must also be a distressingly large number of Dominican women ready and willing to wander with them?

This discussion is surely relevant to this novel, jam packed as it is with sex. My real point is that I find Díaz’s main female characters filled with every bit as much sexual swagger as the male characters who apparently disheartened you.




Theresa Diva, did you ever see the opera Norma? That is one of a grand total of two operas I have seen, and I loved it. Anyway, your "poor me" remark for some reason reminded me.

In Norma, a Druid priestess, supposedly a virgin (I think it was a job requirement), has secretly had an affair, and two children, with a Roman general occupying her people's lands. The general's eye has strayed to yet another Druid virgin priestess, and he keeps blaming it on Cupid's arrow in asides to the audience, as in it's not really my fault, I couldn't help myself, I was hit by Cupid's arrow, dah, dah, dah. Cracked me up! Norma eventually hands her kids over to the other priestess, and immolates herself with the general, who is being put to death for his travesties.

So it's not only Dominican men that suffer from this disease! And, as with Steve's theory, even Roman generals apparently had no trouble finding willing accomplices for their shenanigans. Blame the whole darn mess on Cupid's arrows, I guess.

Theresa


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

It may be that those female willing accomplices tend to gravitate toward fiction, for better pickings. I think there is a distinct shortage in the reality around where I live. The men, however, . . . .


message 27: by Stephen (last edited May 23, 2008 11:13AM) (new)

Stephen Actually, Russ, I find reality around here to be quite similar to that you describe in your environs. It is clear to me that the women I read about in this novel are hot climate phenomena.


Theresa Russ and Steve, that was pretty much my point. If the Lotharios are nothing but poseurs, then the women are probably figments of their posing .. .


message 29: by Jane (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jane Steve and Russ,

One time recently I went out with some women who volunteer with me at the jazz station. It was a real eye-opener for me. One of them in particular described herself as a cougar. I didn't know what that was, but she said it was an older woman who goes on the prowl for younger men. Both of these women told stories that amazed me! Apparently the women are out there, gentlemen.

Jane


Sherry I just now finished this and had to come running and read all your comments. Diva, how wonderful to have someone from the DR to give us an insider's view of the book.

I just loved it, even though it took me almost a month to read. My mind has been on other things and I couldn't seem to settle down. Now that I'm done, I wonder what was in that last package. What do you all think? Was he trying to gather evidence against his killers? Did they destroy the evidence? Maybe he gave himself to them to identify them? I guess that's one definition of "martyr."


Sherry This is what I get for finishing the book late. Nobody will come and talk to me. I'm going to pout.


message 32: by Stephen (new)

Stephen No, no, no, Sherry. Don't pout. The problem is that these are really good questions that you have asked, and I can't answer them now. Having listened to this book, I need a paper copy of the thing so that I can read parts of it related to these issues.


message 33: by Ruth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ruth Jane says this was my nomination, and Jane has no reason to make that up. This must have been my nomination. But I forgot about it and read the book months and months ago. I don't remember enough to answer your questions either, Sherry.


Wilhelmina Jenkins I'm still at number 36 on my library's hold list. I'll probably be reading it at Christmastime.


Sherry I wish we lived closer. I'd lend you my copy.


Wilhelmina Jenkins Thanks, Sherry. I was happy to see that you enjoyed the book so much. I'll refer back to this discussion whenever the nice library people finally get around to me.


message 37: by D.G. (last edited Jun 02, 2008 09:56AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

D.G. Well, I'm back. Had a lovely time in the DR (it was Mother's day last Sunday there) but it rained a bit so my beach time was curtailed.

I'm not sure if you guys are up to commenting but I'll try to answer some of the questions above.

I think you're right Steve, and Diaz is more observant than sympathetic. I guess my impression that Diaz was sympathetic to cheaters was because I liked Yunior in some respects and I was juxtaposing my feelings to Diaz. After all, cheaters are not necessarily bad people just selfish, and I guess as a woman who's seen enough suffering, there's this war within me that would want everybody to condemn them as evil, evil!

There are plenty Dominican woman who wander too (and of course, I wouldn't call them victims...that's would be a double standard, LOL!) but it's not something approved by society as is the case of men. If a woman wanders regularly, she's seen as a woman of ill repute while the man is congratulated. And if you're considered a whore by society, nobody really cares about your feelings nor holds you to high standards of behavior, as opposed to a married man (even if he's as much of a whore as the woman who he cheats with.)

Sherry – When I read the book, I thought I had an idea of what was in the package but now it’s not that clear to me. Maybe it was evidence incriminating his killers but then I thought there was plenty of evidence. To tell you the truth, it amazed me that his killers went free at the end, for the simple fact that Oscar was an American citizen! Dominican authorities take those more seriously – if he would have been a poor Dominican, I’m sure nothing would have happened but in this case, I know for a fact that the authorities would have done something.



Sherry Thanks, Diva, for coming back and answering some of the questions. I hadn't thought about Oscar being an American citizen. That makes a lot of sense, and I can understand why the book seemed to lose credibility there.


message 39: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Diva, your comments concerning the double standard applicable to the promiscuous male and the promiscuous female are certainly accurate. It does appear to me as an outsider looking in that this is particularly true in Hispanic cultures.


message 40: by Jim (last edited Jun 17, 2008 07:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim While I was reading this, I thought a little bit about Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March, which begins "I am an American". Augie is coming out of the Jewish community and may have been a third generation immigrant, but there is still the sense of trying to fit into the dominant culture. Instead of latching onto the fantasy life of the time, he focuses on making a living, a concern that doesn't seem to take up much space in Oscar's world.

Looking at another book with a similar topic, I thought of Lost City Radio which had the dictatorship in a Latin country. In that book the characters seemed to seemed to be dodging some alien impersonal force. Here the dictatorship seemed to be a little more personal and the population seemed slightly more comfortable dealing with them. Of course, Yunior had the advantage of being able to insult a dead dictator from the safety of New Jersey.

In any case, I enjoyed Oscar Wao, a strange thing to say about what is essentially a sad story.


Summer I am late, but just finishing up now. I was also reminded of a Julia Alvarez novel, but in my case it was In the Name of Salome. (If any of you have not read In the Name of Salome yet, I highly recommend you pick it up.) I think it is not just the setting, but also the theme: the multi-generational tale of woe (and isolated triumph?).

Speaking of In the Name of Salome: I would love, Love, LOVE to read Salomé Ureña’s poetry on a large scale, but my Spanish is not up to par-not even close. I wish someone would publish a side-by-side Spanish/English, because that allows me to hear the rhythm of the original language and the bolster my limited comprehension.

Back to Oscar and Junot: I love what he says here in the interview Liz posted, “I've almost never read an adult book where I didn't have to pick up a dictionary. I guess I participate more in my readings and expect the same out of my readership. I want people to research, to ask each other, to question. But also I want there to be an element of incomprehension. What's language without incomprehension? What's art? And at a keeping-it-real level: Isn't it about time that folks started getting used to the fact that the United States comprises large Spanish-speaking segments?” I think this is an excellent point. If we were still reading Dick and Jane stories, what would we be talking about? Where is the provocation towards exchange of ideas?

I’ll post my thoughts on the book when I’m totally done.


Summer Long interview/reading by Junot Diaz on authors@google
http://youtube.com/watch?v=I-tD45oj1ro

I love this exchange between Yunior and Oscar,
"Come on, tranquilísante.
He slumped. I'm copacetic.
You ain’t pathetic.
I said copacetic. Everybody, he shook his head, misapprehends me.”

I think Junot Diaz is at least a big a nerd inside as Oscar. In the interview, sometimes he speaks in an overly formal voice like Oscar.


message 43: by Wilhelmina (last edited Jul 04, 2008 10:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wilhelmina Jenkins I can't believe that I am still #11 on my library's waiting list!


melbourne Applauding during a landing, interestingly enough, is something that crosses several cultures. When my wife and I go to Colombia or travel there, everyone applauds. I was surprised when I went to Europe that the French, at least some applauded also. I've always liked the custom personally.


message 45: by Ken (last edited Aug 03, 2008 04:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken Well I don't think any of you even read this thread anymore, but I just wanted to say that I finished it and liked it mucho. Me, a guy who usually loathes Latin American literature -- specifically that magical realism garbage put out by Gabriel Maria Remarque Marquis de Sade Llosa whatever (he wrote A BILLION YEARS OF SOLITUDE, which is about what I'd need to finish it).

Interesting that I finished this right after reading the YA book LITTLE BROTHER. In both cases, the books have protagonists who like science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, and comics/role playing stuff. Nerd leads. It got me thinking on how many of our best fiction writers are former (and, for all we know, present-day) nerds.

Only Diaz seems very hip. In addition to all the Spanish (I understood 30%), he uses what looks like hip street language and terms -- in English. I didn't get all of these, either.

At first I was not enamored with the Beli story line (her past) and was impatient to get back to Oscar and Lola's story, but it (the Beli-cose part) grew on me, and I even managed to get through the grandfather's story OK (that'd be Abelard, named for a famous Middle Ages hero, I think, though I forget the allusion's storyline... probably he died for his love Heloise or something, as that was a full-time job back then).

The young kids' POV I loved, though. Lola was one tough cookie, Mister. And Oscar was such an Id that you couldn't help watching (kind of like at train wrecks or highway accidents you crawl by with police lights glaring).

His demise was so sweet because it was in the name of LOVE in a way that no rational person would experience it. Isn't that what true love should be? It's kind of like being Christian. Easy, until you try to follow it by the letter of the law (meaning, like JC himself lived it). What are you, nuts? We rational folks just don't love and live in such ways. But Oscar did (and Christ did) -- with similar results.

Odd that a guy who hates family saga books (hint: me) took to this. Diaz suckered me in, though. I couldn't tell it was a family saga until I was deep into it. And his own alter ego (Yunior -- only one section from his voice, though you hear it like a Greek chorus in others) was the POV in much of it. Love how he made himself (or his fictional alternate) so MACHO (in a DR kind of way).

Hysterical anecdote about Riverhead not wanting to publish what would go on to win a Pulitzer. I have such faith in the publishing industry. I have to, now that I've finished a novella and am about to market it (maybe I should send Diaz a copy and start, "Buenos Diaz, Senor..."

Or maybe not.


Sherry It's interesting to get your perspective on it, NE. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


message 47: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken Thanks for spelunking down here, Sherry (claustrophobia's worse when you're alone!)...


message 48: by Ruth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ruth I too, am glad you persisted in writing down here in the cave. It's good to get all these different opinions.


Summer Perhaps social isolation leads to development of a strong inner voice which is good for writing fiction.


message 50: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken Yes, and as I wrote in my review, I think minorities in America (like Diaz) have an advantage because their voices are newer and their material more (if you'll excuse the pun) novel. I find a lot of American novels about American families just sort of vanilla. Same ole, same ole. Almost like a modern version of Henry James' dreaded (by me) "drawing room miniatures."

Ruth! You visited! Stalactite or stalagmite?


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