Sunday, October 30, 2011

Junot Diaz Challenge: (100 books in a year): #5

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Favorite themes in this one:
  • The role of the narrator and author in the creation of a story:
    • Analogy between "It's a Good Life" Twilight Zone Episode set in Peaksville, Ohio and any author and especially evil dictators
  • Spiritualism and magical thinking a waste of good time
    • There are really good examples of people who are convinced that their destiny is determined by an evil spell (fuku) instead of perhaps the more banal (more insidious) existential curse of living itself (randomness). Oscar and his family were doomed from the start of their adventure. Of course, they also participated in their downfall, but if they had done nothing, they would have also lived lives filled with suffering and pain. 
    • Ultimately the character's focus (past, present or future) and their mindset (optimistic, realistic, spiritual, pessimistic, etc.) are what they have some degree of control over.
    • Oscar is ultimately satisfied when he achieves intimacy (connection) with another person. And, at the end of his life, in his letter to Yunior, he says, "He couldn't believe that he'd had to wait for this so goddamn long...The beauty! The beauty!" In waiting, with his future outlook, he had lived his whole, short, life away
  • Narrator - Who is the Yunior? Why would he write this book? To understand his fate/history? Still owes it to Oscar/family/fuku? Fear? Love? Perhaps he is just a thinly veiled Junot.
I can't wait to see what the VI formers have to say about this... and am hoping to join their discussion.

In other news...

In case you are counting, you will notice that I am a bit behind my pace: we are one month down and I have read 5 books (off my 6 books a month pace while teaching). Not to worry, I am still working hard on this project and will be back on top of my rate in no time. Stay tuned!

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