Monday, January 28, 2008

The Brief Wondrous Life of of Oscar Wao

Just finished Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of of Oscar Wao. (I'm a fan of Diaz's short stories from his collection Drown. Each story packed an emotional punch in the gut.) At first, I was put off by the footnotes in the novel, since it seems a gimicky technique--show-offy, too clever--at least in other works I've read. But the footnotes--from the narrator-- work here. They fill in the history of the Dominican Republic in a witty way, and it's part of the narrator's style to impart the background that way. (The first footnote: "For those of you who missed your mandatory two seconds of Dominican history...") No kidding. It's shameful how little I--like most Americans-- know about the DR.
This tale is masterfully structured, too, with multiple perspectives from the past and present, DR and New Jersey. The Brief Wondrous Life of of Oscar Wao passes the "still thinking about it long after I finished reading it" test. Good reading.

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