I am making an effort to catch up on all my book reviews. I’ve read so many books in the past several months but have not written about them. So today I am going to write about reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
I knew nothing about the Dominican Republic when I began reading this book, and so I really enjoyed all the footnotes he added to give context and further the story telling. I also found myself interrupting my reading to look things up online. Every so often something like this comes in to my life to remind just how self absorbed I tend to be, and how very little I know about the world around me. I consider that to be one of the greatest gifts of reading, the opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience life in ways that time does not allow me to otherwise do. (you know…rabbit holes)
I could relate to Oscar, sometimes too well. Being a geek myself, and raising four of them, I understood the pain of not fitting in, of feeling that no one “gets” me. There are still occasions where this feeling comes to me, although as I’ve gotten older and matured (at least a little bit :) )I’ve found that I don’t mind not fitting in all the time, and that the feeling of fitting in is really almost illusory anyway.
I’ve never experienced anything near the poverty or violence that was shown in the parts of the story that take place in the Dominican Republic. Even with all the hardships I’ve had over the past 48 years, nothing compares to what Diaz wrote about there. And I don’t think that it was anything Diaz “enhanced” in an effort to make the story more powerful. After the reading I did from other sources in addition to the book I came away believing that while this particular story was fictional, the situation for people living in the D.R. was accurately portrayed.
Like all good books this one stayed with me while I wasn’t reading it, it had an effect on my thoughts and emotions even while I was doing other things. And that continued after finishing the last sentence. This book changed me. I wouldn’t say that it is one of my favorites, but I loved it.