I don’t usually do book reviews or comment on books I read mostly because, really, who am I?
But The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is an exception ’cause it’s, quite frankly, exceptional. And the fact that it won a Pulitzer doesn’t hurt my creds either.
It’s Junot Diaz’s first novel and I’m always drawn to first novels. I kinda remember reading reviews about it after it was released but then it was lost in the shifting muck of my memory. While out shopping last Christmas I ran across it at a bookstore and picked it up.
I’d like to say I hurried home and read it right away but I didn’t. Instead, it sat on a bookshelf for the better part of a year while I bought and read other books mostly best forgotten.
I finally got around to reading it last week and almost immediately wondered why I had waited so long, why I had kept pushing it to the bottom of the pile.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a high speed rollicking ride down the haunting tragicomedy highway of three generations of Oscar’s Santo Domingo (Dominguan?) family. Spanning the late thirties to the present it’s the story of his family’s inescapable familial fate.
While the story itself is kinda predictable the storytelling is anything but. Written with a raw energy and peppered with latino slang, Junot uses lengthy footnotes that are as entertaining as the story itself. The book is truly a literary event. (whoa, check me out, this is why I don’t review things- I start sounding like a turd)
Honestly though, it’s one of those books that you don’t want to ever end and even when it predictably winds down to it’s predictable ending it’s so well written that you’ll find yourself reading and re-reading the last couple of pages over and over and savoring the feelings they bring out.
It’s that damn good.