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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz Just got a hold of this, and am very excited...

...and devoured it, in a couple days. First, I was a fan of _Drown_, Diaz' collection (now 10 years old), particularly for its ability to define and then to defy the painful events narrated. One of the stories is a masterpiece about two boys who kind of back into a homosexual encounter, and then move on without really grappling with the experience, and it's always struck me as generous, funny, moving -- just a model for precise language to capture, precisely, the complexity of emotions and desires.

While this novel loses none of that acuity, its manner is far more extravagant, its style a collage of strong voices. Told by two of its characters, while also (in an almost-omniscient third person) detailing events for two others, _Oscar Wao_ is about the Dominican Republic and the traumas of Trujillo, about being a fat geek of color in Paterson NJ, about desire and family obligations. Diaz' prose is a stew of pop culture influences, DR-cultural touchpins, and Spanish as idiomatic as the English. At a sentence-level, a blast.

And I'm still wrassling with its characters' lives. At times you can see JD's influences taped over an event or plot (and he even footnotes Julia Alvarez in one sequence). But _Oscar_ is exponentially more expansive and ambitious than _Drown_, and Diaz maintains his clear, tough-eyed approach to self and self-deception while mapping a much larger, more complicated territory than that earlier book. I hope the next novel doesn't take 10 years to write--this is good.