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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz So many reviews tell you what the book is about, as though you utterly failed to read anything ABOUT said book before encountering their munificent review. Sure.I instead come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.The book is a brew of immigrant-family-saga, multi-generational family-relationship-to-a-land saga, and national-identity story. In short, there's something for everybody to hate.The book is filled with street spanish, and references to 1980's era Sci-Fi and comics, and an immense number of Lord of the Rings references. Honestly, if you didn't read LOTR growing up, you might wish to rethink this book. You can read it with annotated guides, of course, and lastly I'd have to ask WHY you haven't read LOTR. It's good, go read it.The technique is very good, Diaz manages to steer a course between those towering Gibraltar stones of modern writing, Lyrical Realism and well, they can call it want they want, but I'd call it post-modern naturalism. There's some nice turns of phrase, some nice imagery, and even a few solid dramatic moments. However his reluctance to stray from the Bodega awning of his street patter or geek references even with characters who are supposed to NOT be the geek speak to an unsteady hand. In moments where the stage is set perfectly, he frequently spoils the effect by inserting some choice comment with a Balrog in it. Aha, you say, but that's what is true to the world of this book! To which I will admit your point, and follow it with the observation that had he NOT given into this constant shackling crutch of a concept, he could have made immortal poetry that would ensure his book be read by generations. Instead, despite it's many glorious awards and despite his obvious skills and ability, I suspect it will largely be covered over by the Ozymandias hating sands of time. Glorious and assured of eternal life in it's day, a dusty ruin in the next.Instead what I'm left with from this book is the hope that this signals the beginning for Diaz, and that in the future we'll be treated to acts of brilliant poetry in prose. I fear at the same time that instead we'll get a minor variation on a theme, the act of a confused dog trying to repeat the same trick for the treats. His announcement that he's writing a massive sci-fi epic could be the signal of either, frankly. But while I honestly hate finding myself cynical about anything, if you pressed me to place $5 on an end result, I suspect that if it gets finished (not a certainty, from what it sounds like) it will end up a big-budget movie that we'll all forget 6 months later. In Oscar Wao, he often refers to a faceless man, whom we're brought to identify with bad things. Perhaps the greatest curse is to speak to millions, have them turn an interested ear, only to watch your words, your very face and identity float away on the wind six months later as though what you said carried as little weight as the ashes of your now burned up ideas.