Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Brief Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao

I was pretty excited to read this book. It was recommended by a friend. I typically do not read award winning books without hearing about them from friends. Just cause it won awards doesn't mean I'll like it.
I was enthralled by the first chapter. I knew people like Oscar. Occasionally I felt like Oscar. But then we switched to his sister, then his mother, then his grandfather, then his friend, Yunior. I liked hearing Oscar's story more or less from his own mouth.
I struggled with the paragraph sized footnotes towards the beginning of the book. I felt like I was reading a text book. I felt like I needed a Spanish dictionary to understand some of the converstations. Toward the middle of the book, I was just reading to finish it.
The writing is beautiful and you feel like you are in a different place. Diaz paints a stunningly real picture of these people's lives. I went into the book wanting to hear about Oscar and heard more about his family than I wanted. I know sometimes hearing the past can help you understand the future or the present but I felt like there were a couple of different books rivaling each other. It felt like too much and Oscar's story was lost along the way.
I'm sad that I did not enjoy this book more.


Rachel said...

I felt exactly the same way when I read it! I had many moments when I identified with Oscar's outsider/marginal status, especially at the start -- but the story derailed, and then it just petered out at the end (events notwithstanding).

I was sorry to feel that way when I was done, especially since I had been so excited to finally get my hands on a copy, but that's honestly how I felt. Ultimately I think this particular book was overrated and overhyped, and it was disappointing to me.

moonrat said...

I quite enjoyed this novel, but to be honest I, too, was pretty disappointed about the composition, especially the several uneven intents in the narrative and the bouncing voice.

mel ulm said...

Diaz's collection of short stories "Drown" is at least as good as Oscar Wao maybe better, to me it felt more real.

Staci said...

Sounds like there is too much of a good thing and like you noted too many stories going on all at the same time. I may try this book but I'm not going to run out to grab it that's for sure!! Great review Linda!!