Posts Tagged ‘ literary critic ’

College Week 2 and Why I Don’t “Like” The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao

No, I have not deceased. I am, in fact, very much alive and well. I’m currently in my second week of classes. As much as it felt like we “hit the ground running” I’m still bracing myself for what I anticipate to be a tidal wave of work.

I’ve been doing ok so far — except for the fact that I haven’t been taking the time to properly list my assignments. That had not really been a problem until today. Last night more precisely, I realized that I had not even looked at the reading for my bio class which I had today. I ended up reading a couple chapters of bio in between classes today (mind you that Tuesday is one of my two busiest days).

I did fine in class but also decided that there will not be a repeat performance.

The issue is that it takes time to plan your assignments. It takes time to implement software solutions to keep all of your work organized. I started doing this last week. It was taking a lot of time, I was tired and had a couple assignments due so I just did them and got some sleep. I guess I’ll be revisiting discussions of how to get WebDAV working on my server…

I finally know why I don’t like (to put it mildly) Junot Diaz’s book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’ve distilled my intense dislike for the Pulitzer prize winning novel. I can sum it up in one word. Disappointed.

We have been discussing the book in my (awesome by the way) English class (along with themes such as deliberate living and social programing).
Today, Junot Diaz came to the school to do a reading and answer questions about the book.
As I was listening to him talk it all kind of fell into place. Even though he seemed to distance the book from his own experiences growing up, I saw a lot of very direct parallels between the characters and symbolisms in the book and experiences/characters in his own story. I understand his book much better, more deeply. While I whole heartedly agree that it is very complex and excellently crafted, the reasons for my persistent disillusion with this book came clear.

It is simply this. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is like a defeated hero. The book is boldly written and it’s very structure begs a critical, deeper-than-the-surface consideration. It sets out boldly to accomplish great things – things which it ultimately (after many painful reiterations of the same struggle) unceremoniously surrenders.

The worst part however isn’t the surrender – it’s the fact that he, in his novel defines success as (or finds success in) the very things he sets out to so boldly challenge.
Granted that this could be a device – a means to an end – but according to the author, his goal (and what he seems to think he has accomplished) is victory.

For example, he says that he sought to bring out that life is difficult but beautiful. As the reader – the beauty was completely lost on me (something for which I blame the author’s lack of bring it out). He attacks, head on, the issues of his culture’s (sudo) definition of manhood. He does this (in his own words) by creating a character which is the antithesis of this macho “manhood”. He says that this is an exploration of who people really are – a foray outside of the “mask” that people wear to fit in. In the story, you might think that this character would embrace who he is and find success outside of the prescribed cultural “box”. Wrong. In order to accomplish “manhood” (symbolized by getting laid) he has to become the “macho man” that Diaz rebels against.

So, either we conclude that the author miserably failed to deliver – allowing the spirit of the novel to fall flat on it’s face and grovel in the dirt of tragic despair, or that it was simply written to be a celebration of the morbid and tragic.

*sighs* I think that’s it for now. I need to go to bed. Hopefully I’ll be able to dig something out of this to use as a spring board for my essay… I have to incorporate some aspect of the book…

Physics at 8… I need to read the lab report.


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