LITERATURE: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Opening Thoughts

I've been busily writing on Hypercompendia so I haven't been as caught up as usual here on the literature postings but I have starting reading this novel by Junot Diaz and find it to be rather quick, easy reading despite some halts over the Spanish words with which the story is graced.

Not sure why I've been into adolescent boys lately–in my reading, that is–but this is another and yet it is so different than the rest perhaps because this boy is not a hero, but more the geeky pimply-faced and overweight typical teen. 

Oscar goes through his awkward stage determined to not adjust to his peers, but take the opposite approach and stand out as different. Though he attempts to work on his physical appearance, his interests are sacrosanct.

Oscar listened to their messages on the machine and resisted the urge to run over to their places. Didn't see them but once, twice a week. Focused on his writing. Those were some fucking lonely weeks when all he had were his games, his books, and his words. (p. 32)

He gains some respect from his older sister as he stands up for himself:

In the old days when his so-called friends would hurt him or drag his trust through the mud he always crawled voluntarily back into the abuse, our of fear and loneliness, something he'd always hated himself for, but not this time. If there existed in his high school years any one moment he took pride in it was clearly this one. (p. 33)

So Oscar learns early how to escape peer pressure, that pox on adolescence that leaves its marks on lesser souls. It is clearly one of the hardest lessons one learns in life, and some people never escape it. There is a need to be included, and yet the alternative is just as satisfying, often more so. As long as one becomes "unique" for a good reason rather than for antisocial behavior, usually those who once shunned such an individual come to admire him.

Diaz's writing style reveals a very strong voice that sets the tone and mood of the story. There is a casual language that includes expletives and politically incorrect labels and yet it, as with Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, belongs because it is used in innocence of its politically incorrectness. Language changes within society's norms. What once meant nothing demeaning, may become offensive. But it is not only time that changes meaning, but culture and often racially charged words may still be acceptable within its own marked group.

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