7.28.2009

Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

I keep wanting to insert an "and" between "Brief" and "Wondrous"--not sure why that is. I think I did it in the last post but didn't find it in time to fix it. Anyway. I'm somewhat relieved in that I liked this one, though I didn't love it. Liked some parts an awful lot, though. Which leads me to a somewhat larger concern. Maybe it's that a little education is a dangerous thing, but reading has become terribly difficult, I find, in that it's really hard to flat-out enjoy something without succumbing to the urge to dissect it to bits. Oscar Wao, for example--enjoyable, to be sure, but I found myself respecting the project more than enjoying the read. Kind of like The Hangover, if any of you have seen it--I spent a lot of time while watching it impressed by its construction, how the pieces fit together quite well, but I did that instead of laughing. I'd be curious to hear if anyone else had the same feeling (re Oscar Wao or The Hangover, either way), but I'm even more curious to know what you've all been reading, in recent memory, that has been engaging/compelling enough to make you stop thinking about the process and just enjoy it. I'm struggling to remember, myself, but I think Jennifer Egan's The Keep might take those honors. I knew while I was reading it that it wasn't a perfect book, but I just didn't care--I had to know what happened next, and I think I need to read something like that soon. Recommendations, please, please, please.

6 comments:

TLB said...

Totally on board with your assessment of The Hangover--interesting in construction (if not entirely original) but entirely forgettable once it was over.

Am having the same problem with Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.

Grendel said...

I think you want to insert the "and" because then it would be more iambic -- and better. The "and" should be there.

I need to be "Wao"ed it seems. All the cool kids are reading it. Like The Corrections and Cloud Atlas in days of yore. It's going to have to wait until I've devoured Pynchon's new one coming out Aug 4.

I was disappointed by the hangover. Such a great concept, they could have done so much with it. Instead, they just kind of skated along in "okay summer movie" mode. There was nothing special about it that I could see. Except that Zack Galafrackinakis or whatever should be a much bigger star than he is.

As for recs I'm still splashing about in the canon playpool. When I want to read something in which I get totally absorbed and don't think about how the sausage was made, I reach for Dickens. Right now I'm in the thick of Tale of Two Cities," which for some reason I'd been avoiding. Engrossing -- he makes it look so fun and easy.

dunkeys said...

The Savage Detectives

cfp said...

I like it better without the 'and,' if only because the adj and adj noun of proper noun feels more familiar.

I'm reading Gil Adamson's The Outlander and liking it.

msf said...

I totally thought The Savage Detectives was going to be that kind of book during that first section. Then I got to the section of fragments and got really frustrated--I kept wondering how long it would go on before we got back to the good stuff, and when it turned out to be almost the entire book, I was kind of devastated. I hear 2666, which is next on my list, is more like the beginning of TSD, so I'm optimistic...

Grendel said...

I finally read Oscar Wao. I did enjoy it all the way through. It reminded me that writing can be ecstatic and exuberant. It doesn't have to be staid and perfect. Energy goes a long way, and character is the basis for all driving narrative. Wasn't crazy about the POV shifts though. Loved the ending.