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review 2013-12-19 21:05
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz

Gods, what a frustrating novel. So desperately did I want to like this that I set it down and tried again a day later, having let the strangeness wash over me and the language settle into my head.

 

In a combination of English and the occasional Spanish, Oscar Wao is the story of a short and frustrating lifetime. A combination of souls, lives which speak about their histories and their involvements in Oscar's upbringing, the novel talks of his formative years and the years he spent at college and beyond, dissolving into an incomprehensible web of past, present and future at times. 

 

The sections are split into chapters, and the chapters each take a voice and perhaps ten or twenty subheadings, with no alert as to the changes in tone, voice or time. Frustrating mostly because as soon as one found that voice, it changed, and something newer and more frustrating got in the way. 

 

The story, originally about what I think is a Dominican curse, quickly devolves into the miserable life of Oscar Wao, blamed on the curse and just as swiftly, it seems, forgotten, in favour of chronicling the various ups and downs and drifting into and out of popular culture. The result is... Well, I'm not entirely sure of the result, but it bemused the hell out of me. 

 

I'm open to conversation on this, because I'm sure I've missed something, but the novel's not something I'd recommend to anyone seeking a consistent flow.

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