A very good friend of mine works for AOL, and when she asked me if I could contribute to an article titled “25 Books Women Love” I was so very excited! (Without further ado, here’s the article) Digging through some of the art-themed books that I’ve discussed on this blog, including the Matisse Stories (A.S. Byatt), Volcano Lover (Susan Sontag), How Proust Can Save Your Life (Alain de Botton), and the Museum of Innocence (Orhan Pamuk), I couldn’t resist writing up a new one for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz). I just put this supremely hysterical Dominican family saga down a few days ago, and I’m still reeling from the travails of the incredible lead character that Diaz created in Oscar. The whole novel etched itself powerfully in my head. While the book doesn’t have an art or art history bent, per se, (except for the fact that it ‘etched’ itself in my head!) it is a great read.
“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” – by Junot Diaz
Remember the nerdy guy in your high school chemistry class? The sweet, but devastatingly overweight boy who stared at you from across the room? Made your arm hairs stand on edge? Oh, you could sense him pining away… Lucky you.
Well, meet Oscar. In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Oscar, front and center, is that guy. But because you are grown up now, and have shed your vain, over-sensitized teenager ways, you like Oscar, really like him. You root for him. You want him to get “the girl.” The beautiful one.
Oscar is Dominican — at least, his mami and grandparents were raised there — and so the lush backdrop of the Caribbean sweeps through the book as his family saga unravels as he travels (searching for love, of course) between the Dominican Republic and New Jersey. But Diaz doesn’t paint the island all sexy and fabled. No. Oscar’s life journey is a rough, feisty ride, peppered with Diaz’s electrifying (and uproariously hilarious) language.
The Brief Life of Oscar Wao truly takes you back to those high school and college days, a time you wished you’d been nicer to boys, nicer to girls, nicer to yourself. But it leaves you somehow invigorated that you are who you are. Now.