Friday, November 9, 2007

Oscar Wao

I'm not much for book reviews. I don't read them too often, and I certainly do not write them. If I really enjoy a book and I feel that for the benefit of humanity it is necessary to spread the word, I usually just go around telling everyone, "I read the most amazing book...." for about a year afterwards. That's what I did after I read Alexander Hamilton's biography by Ron Chernow (life changing, but don't get me started). Still, I somehow can't resist sharing, very briefly, my thoughts on the most recent book I've read: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

I expected to enjoy it (it having been recommended by at least one person whose taste I trust). I didn't expect to spend the evening after finishing it smiling to myself because it really surprised me. I rarely have that feeling after reading a book, and I found myself thinking, "Junot, man, I was not expecting that! You got me that time!" Its unique blend of sweet nerdiness, streetwise attitude, and confrontation of the cold, hard historical facts was a fascinating combo. It was thought-provoking on so many levels: the changing perspective of the narration, the development of the story's somewhat eccentric characters, the terrifying picture of a Dominican Republic under Trujillo's dictatorship, and let's not forget the spot-on Spanglish and the innumerable references to science fiction and fantasy novels (some popular and some unbelievably obscure). From beginning to end it was starkly different from everything else I have read this year, and it was so refreshing. Two thumbs way up.


Ashkon said...

Best book review I have ever read.

amy sahba said...

sorry i missed this month's book club selection! I'll have to borrow it!