Everybody’s heard of this book by now, and I am definitely most definitely late to this reading party. I was actually working at Penguin when this book was released, and boy let me tell you, it was something of a riot every day with that book garnering reviews and praise and accolades and acommens… no, what’s the word? Econiums? Them. Either way, it was a Big Deal, and now I’m reading it after purposefully missing the bandwagon for a couple of years. Had to let the furor die down before I tried it myself, see.
And, well, I’m a third of the way in. Was sitting in the kitchen while Grace cooked, my attempts to help rebuffed so that I retreated to the corner with a beer and the book and began to read. Devour it. Because it’s like a rich spirit, you read it and it burns so smooth. And I ain’t the sipping kind. When I like something, I gulp, and this book lends itself to gulping.
So gulp I did, and man, Diaz ain’t pretending to be anything other than hip and modern. He throws geek references out there without fear, daring you to not know what Captain Tripps, the Lensmen, Akira or any of a hundred geek references are. Don’t know, don’t care? Than you’re missing out on the weft and weave of much of this novel. Because Oscar Wao is a nerd of the first degree, out nerding most nerds with aplomb.
But what grips me is the same thing that gripped me when I read Junot’s collection of short stories, DROWN. It’s how real everybody seems. Their dialog, their characters, their motivations, their families, their worlds. None of it seems made up, as strange and intricate as it all is. The language, the flow, the description and portrayal all amount to flesh and blood, breathing
OH GOD HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE HAS JUST COME ON
Ok, changed that. And wouldn’t you know, Bee Gees are followed by Beethoven’s 9th symphony. NICE.
So what was I saying? Something about Oscar Wao. Erm. Yes, it’s all very real, very persuasive, so that you feel like you’re getting a slice of life. Which is powerful and subtle and incredibly hard to pull off.
So I’m in it till the end, and will report back once I’ve read some more.
BTW, Dan said that he didn’t like the mixing of English and Spanish. I find it natural, actually, aggressively true to much of what I hear around Miami. So it works for me, but I can see it not working for others? Ah well.