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You can find me at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3144945-alex - I do not update this site anymore. 

Currently reading

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master
David Thomas, Andrew Hunt
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz Junot Diaz's voice is so original that I was a little suspicious of his book: I worried that the voice was all he had. A gimmick, this weird hybrid of Dominican street and American nerd. It's interesting to read, but if you take away the style, is the book still good? The central question is, "Can he pull this off?"


The voice is purposefully exclusive. If you don't get the reference to Unus the Untouchable, you're out of luck. And more controversially, if you don't get the occasional sentence in Spanish, Diaz isn't going to help you out. He's trying to challenge you with this:
"Motherfuckers will read a book that’s one third elvish, but put two sentences in spanish and they Tolkien translated his elvish bits, where he thought they were necessary. It's more valid to compare Diaz to guys like Joyce or Eco. They also made many references and didn't bother to explain them. They were writing for specific audiences; if you're not that audience, you're gonna have a bad time. This is what Diaz is about too, and that's as valid for him as it was for them. If reading Diaz annoys you, I think you should remember that Diaz doesn't give a fuck. Neither did Joyce.

Of course it's okay to write a book for a very specific audience. If all goes well, that audience will read that book; no one else will even have heard of it; everyone wins. Where it gets murky is when the book has such literary merit that everyone else wants to read it, too. Then everyone else gets frustrated because they can tell it's good, but they kinda don't get it without footnotes, and nobody likes footnotes. (Right?)

Unfortunately for Diaz, he's fallen into this zone. It's a delicate thing he's attempting: an audacious voice, an exclusive milieu, a combative approach. It can only work if it's very, very good.

How nice that it is.

If I have a complaint, it's the narrator, Yunior. He seems either too present or not present enough. Oscar's clearly enormous influence on him is a bit of a mystery. One assumes that the constant, deep nerd references are due to Oscar, but that's never clearly stated.

Turns out Diaz is aware of that question:
In Oscar Wao, one of the questions that a reader has to answer for themselves is: Why is Yunior telling this particular story? One might say that for him the telling of this story is an act of contrition, but that's too simple—it's something else, I would argue.

One should also remember that in places like the Caribbean, which has suffered apocalypse after apocalypse, it's rarely the people who've been devoured by a story that get to bear witness to its ravages. Usually the survivors, the storytellers, are other people, not even family. In the United States you only get to visit a sick person in a hospital if you're immediate family; where I come from the idea of family is far more elastic, far more creative, far more practical, far more real.

Yunior's telling of this story and his unspoken motivations for it are at the heart of the novel and can easily be missed.

(Slate magazine interview)

I'm not actually sure that answers the question, but it at least addresses it. [b:This is How You Lose Her explains all that.