Customer Review

277 of 312 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be patient, it warms up, February 3, 2008
This review is from: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Hardcover)
The story opens by exploring the life of a Oscar, a promising young Dominican child growing up in New Jersey who morphs into an overweight, unpopular way-out-there nerd who is desperate to lose his virginity. The story goes on to explore the lives of Oscar, Oscar's mother (orphaned, faced class & race discrimination, unrequited love, assault), sister (angst to leave Mother's persistent negativism and see the world) and Mother's family (persecuted by Dictator). The first half of the book was challenging to read as the author uses footnotes and many Spanish language phrases that are not translated (and frustratingly so...and perhaps herein lies the not-so subliminal message to me that I need to learn Spanish). These language challenges, coupled with the weaving back and forth from the present to the past and between multiple characters made the storyline challenging to follow and impacted my enjoyment of the story. That being said, I appreciated author's integration of the political, social and economic history of the Dominican Republic and how the environment shaped many of the lives of the generations who migrated to the U.S. Hang in there as the book warms up at p. 150 and beyond where the main characters develop very nicely.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 28 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 27, 2008 10:40:43 AM PST
F. Jimenez says:
I was almost about to give up on this book, but reading your review encouraged me to finish it, and thankfull that I did, Thanks!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2008 9:40:22 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 27, 2008 10:04:36 AM PST]

Posted on Jun 5, 2008 7:31:09 AM PDT
Marzipanned says:
He says: Hang in there as the book warms up at p. 150 and beyond where the main characters develop very nicely

Well, maybe I'll give it a try. I got so frustrated last night (around page 120) that I threw it across the room. The untranslated Spanish is insulting to the reader. The footnotes get more and more boring as I go along. I've been hoping to get back to Oscar but I keep wading through stories about the sex lives of his sister and mother. Enough already.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2008 7:26:25 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 21, 2008 7:31:05 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2008 7:28:15 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 21, 2008 7:29:33 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2008 7:28:16 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2008 7:28:56 AM PDT
amaryllis says:
I agree. What is it about this book that differentiates it from the undisciplined diatribes that never make it to the best-seller lists (let alone the Pulitzer Prize)? Diaz makes references to obscure historical facts and personages that are like unfunny inside jokes that will distinguish the worthwhile readers from the worthless ones. He uses Spanish words when the English would be just as effective (again, a type of insider elitism). He has this knack for jumping randomly from one story line to another so fast that you barely have time to feel any sense of commitment to anything that's going on, and I wonder seriously if this A.D.D. style of writing is going to have an impact on any segment of literature in the near future. I really hope not.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2008 7:32:07 AM PDT
amaryllis says:
I agree. What is it about this book that differentiates it from the undisciplined diatribes that never make it to the best-seller lists (let alone the Pulitzer Prize?) Diaz makes references to obscure historical facts and personages that are like unfunny inside jokes that will distinguish the worthwhile readers from the worthless ones. He uses Spanish words when the English would be just as effective (again, a type of insider elitism). He has this knack for jumping randomly from one story line to another so fast that you barely have time to feel any sense of commitment to anything that's going on, and I wonder seriously if this A.D.D. style of writing is going to have an impact on any segment of literature in the near future. I really hope not.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2008 9:49:19 PM PST
the customer says:
Geez, can't you guys just enjoy good writing?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2009 6:50:55 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2009 8:31:10 AM PST
C. MacKenzie says:
I completely agree with Marzipanned...instead of throwing the book, I almost threw my Kindle across the room. I'm going to give this a little bit more time although I do think I'm going to be disappointed. The untranslated Spanish is quite annoying.

Well...I finished the book a while ago and can say it did not get any better. I absolutely hated it.

Posted on Jan 26, 2009 3:13:41 PM PST
Agnes says:
In my opinion, this book was very difficult to read. I hardly give up on a book when I start it, but I was so often tempted to do so while reading this one! The Spanish writing, the way Diaz jumps from one story to the other, all these historical footnotes, these complex characters, the ugliness of the Trujillo's dictatorship, everything made it for me a difficult reading, until the end.
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