2009-03-23

final thoughts on Oscar Wao

Some news.... I'm just back from a weekend in Montreal.

Where I bought these:

Not, mind, for their high literature-ness so much as their easy-to-read-ness and my own renewed sense that I'm not really being terribly true to my French Canadian heritage si que je ne peux pas parler francais. (Excuse the horrible, horrible French.)

I'll keep you posted on my progress....
Meanwhile, I finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I was recently asked why I would read something so very depressing, and I didn't quite have an answer.... For all its hip-hop new American prose (which, Erin, I thought was poetry, but more importantly I think it carried a level of reality that makes the story more accessible to an entire generation or two--this is how people talk, eh?), the story was almost like a Russian tragedy. One of those tales that wends in and out of history, putting forward the idea you are your past, and you are your parents, and you are your family's history, too....

Sort of a scary idea, really.

At the end of the day, though -- SPOILER ALERT -- the story is hopeful.
Yes, Oscar is a tragic figure. Yes, perhaps a great deal of the story is dedicated to the question of whether this tragic figure will ever lose his virginity.

But the image Yunior paints of Lola's daughter, of the little girl who he hopes to one day walk through her family history, as if he is some sort of keeper of all things de Leon, is enough to carry the tale into a sort of optimism. Will the little one avoid the fuku? No, that's not really the point. But will the narrator help her understand her past? Maybe, hopefully. And maybe it's understanding your past that can help you to a happy future? Maybe that's why Lola is so very much the survivor?

Sorry, this is very scattered. I'm playing off book club discussions I only half-understood a week ago, and I suppose just a little bit of jet lag.

Closing arguments, not really related to this argument at all, but to media and democracy:
"No matter what you believe: in February 1946, Abelard was officially convicted of all charges and sentenced to eighteen years. Eighteen years!.... Maybe you'll ask, Why was there no outcry in the papers, no actions among the civil rights groups, no opposition parties rallying to the cause? Nigger, please: there were no papers, no civil rights groups, no opposition parties; there was only Trujillo." (p. 247)

1 comment:

erin said...

Still not done with Oscar, but am starting to feel like I was the only one not enamoured with the story. It's not that I dislike it, it's just that amazing to me. But I'm wondering if you've ever read Gabriel Garcia Marquez? A totally different realm of literature, of course, but I get the same feeling of continuity throughout the generations, and the constant intrusion of the historical commentary on political events. I'm curious because, though you mentioned Russian sagas, you couldn't finish Anna Karenina, while I tossed it back like candy. Garcia Marquez, on the other hand, made me want to gouge my eyes out, and Oscar Wao seems to be somewhere in the middle, for me at least. TSS, I know you must have some comments on Garcia Marquez as well.