Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz was on the list from my book club.  I'm trying to catch up on the books they've read that I haven't.  I usually really like their picks although every now and then I run into a dud.  I won't put Oscar into the dud category but it won't make my list of favorites.

The book was well written and the stories had potential to engage.  Unfortunately, I just didn't feel it. In it's favor, this is one of those books that stretched me.  I had to pay attention and use my memory to link things I'd read (LOTR) to this novel.  I learned quite a bit about the history of the Dominican Republic.  I appreciate a fiction book that makes me feel smart for having read it.  The setting and context were flawless. 

The characters were what I found lacking.  Though the stories were compelling, I couldn't connect to anyone.  The women especially were shells with no flesh.  They didn't invoke feeling or connection.  I'm not sure if it was because of the chronology in which the story was told or the voice of the narrator.   Maybe it was a combination of the two that left me feeling disconnected. 

The other difficulty I had was the fact that I'm not fluent in Spanish.  In most instances there were enough context clues that I got the gist of what was said but I certainly didn't get the nuances, if there were any.  Also, Oscar was a sci-fi and fantasy nut.  There were an extensive number of references to that genre that I only hope I understood. 

While I'm not sorry I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz I won't put it on my list of books to recommend.

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