The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Book - 2007
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Publisher description: Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukœ-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2007
ISBN: 9781594489587
Characteristics: 339 pages ; 22 cm


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Manateestarz Nov 25, 2017

It is possible to straddle two subcultures. It is also possible to love a fast paced,furiously written book with pages and pages of allusions.
I just loved this book even though I am not part of the geek fandom that is so important in this book.
Really well written and compelling.

Aug 03, 2017

This isn't working for me. The footnotes are bothering me particularly. I barely know anything about the Dominican Republic and I feel like Diaz expects me to be well versed in their history and their notable historical figures, as well as other pop culture references that are as clear as mud to me. For example, on page five he mentions Darkseid's Omega Effect and Morgoth's Bane and while there is a footnote it made me even more confused, it starts out with

'"I am the Elder King: Melkor, first and mightiest of all the Valar, who was before the world and made it. The shadow of my purpose lies upon Arda, and all that is in it bends slowly and surely to my will."'

and continues on waffling like that for another few sentences. I have no idea if that's from a book, movie, video game or something else entirely and that means that whatever Diaz was trying to tell me by including that reference in the book has been completely lost on me, and however many other readers don't understand the quote.

Another source of constant confusion, and thus frustration, is the use of untranslated Spanish phrases. I don't speak Spanish, I read Spanish even less so if you want to use another language in a book written in English there needs to be a translation within the text or a dictionary at the back. Not being able to read whole lines of dialogue because I don't read the correct language can really alienate a reader (this one especially). These few lines on page 26 encompasses all my frustration

'Listen, palomo: you have to grab a muchacha, y meteselo. That will take care of everything. Start with a fea. Coje that fea y meteselo!'

What does any of that mean?! It's not like it's a single word that I can determine the meaning of through the context of the surrounding words. It's all incomprehensible to me and means that the surrounding scene makes that much less sense.

I'd gotten to the point that before having a look at some of the other reviews I was thinking of DNFing. Now that I've read those reviews and understand that my problems are not mine alone and that they won't magically disappear by the end of the chapter has encouraged me to stop thinking of DNFing and simply do it. Life's too short to read books I'm not enjoying (and highly unlikely to begin enjoying at any time within the 335 pages of the book), maybe if there was a big revelation and turnaround I could will myself to keep going, but the reviews don't mention anything of the sort, so I just can't do it.

Jun 07, 2017

Junot Diaz is a phenomenal writer. He will make you feel something. This book is a perfect summer read and will stick with me for years to come.

Jan 29, 2017

I chose this book for book club as it seemed promising. I must apologize to my fellow members. This book received rave reviews. I struggled to get through it and it made me feel stupid. I didn't understand what was going on or where it was going. I couldn't relate to the characters at all and it seemed as if the primary characters were all just looking to get laid. I didn't find that they had any depth and were all stupid, frankly. I struggled to get through this book and skimmed the last 30 or so pages. I didn't find it vibrant, fast paced or particularly funny. A huge disappointment.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Oct 31, 2016

I read This is How You Lose Her a few years back and liked it for sure but did not love it, which I thought peculiar since I had heard so, so many great things about Diaz's writing. When I told a friend this, he insisted that I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the book he thought would really introduce me to the author. I am SO glad I did- I loved it through and through and through. I actually thought my love for it had reached maximum capacity in the beginning part of the book, when getting to know Oscar and Lola. Little did I know it would grow from there with the intersection of present and past. I may have just read my favorite book.

Sep 08, 2016

I wanted to like this - but ending up calling it quits more than half way in. Slow and hard to follow.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 03, 2016

Haunting. Affecting. There's also this wonderful story about love. I enjoyed the casual tone of the book, the importance of one kiss, and the relationships between Oscar and his family. At its core, ...Oscar Wao is a story that is hard to shake.

Apr 12, 2016

A painfully slow start. It's about a teenage boy, so it sounds like a teenage boy is telling the story.

I am very surprised at the awards it has won.

Feb 12, 2016

I think a person will either like or dislike this book. It is definitely not for everyone. I thought I would not really like it, but as I progressed I got more involved. The characters live life with gusto, collecting women like notches on a belt, using lots of spicy language, and in general trying to be the most desired and envied in the neighbourhood. The writing is conversational with a lot of Spanglish thrown in. I don't speak Spanish and didn't take the time to look up the words so probably didn't get the full flavour of the story, but don't think it hindered my understanding. Oscar and his family, Dominicans living in the United States, are trying to escape the curse placed on their family in the days of Trujillo's dictatorship. Oscar's grandfather was imprisoned, tortured, and murdered, and his family cursed forever. We learn many ugly horrifying things about the regime of the day and what the Dominicans suffered and are still suffering. Corruption, brutality, entitlement seem to be the watchwords in that society. We hope for better for Oscar and his sister Lola but life is still a struggle. Poor Oscar is hugely overweight, nerdy, practically friendless and still a virgin. He yearns to be a cool dude and have a girlfriend but fails at every turn. His life changes dramatically when he goes to visit his aunt in the Dominican Republic.

Dec 18, 2015

I had to take a few runs at this book, before I was able to appreciate the way this book was written.
I also took away an appreciation for the sad history of the Dominican Republic.
Very good book.

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Feb 10, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Feb 10, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.


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portmanteau Jul 09, 2012

A first lesson in the fragility of love and the preternatural cowardice of men. And out of this disillusionment and turmoil sprang Beli's first adult oath, on that would follow her into adulthood, to the States and beyond. I will not serve. Never again would she follow any lead other than her own Not the rector's, not the nuns', not La Inca's, not her poor dead parents'. Only me, she whispered. Me.


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