Saturday, December 27, 2014



Earlier this year I read Junot Díaz's first and only novel to date, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,  and was smitten by it. A large part of why that book was so enjoyable was the point-of-view of it's omniscient narrator Yunior. While Oscar was never able to find a girl, Yunior never seemed able to keep one. Díaz's newest book, a story collection, is a sort of follow-up to Oscar Wao, focusing more on Yunior the Dumb-ass, and Yunior's predicament of not being able to hold a relationship; all of them are doomed, but all of them leave an impression. 

Although he's a good-looking chick magnet, he always seems to screw things up. He could blame this predicament on so many things, including his Dominican ancestry, his family-life, his rolling-stone Papi, or the influence of his lady-killing brother Rafa. But that would be the easy explanation. This collection of interconnected stories touches on the machismo inherent in most men that can ultimately lead to their downfall in relationships.

I don't know what hot-blooded guy couldn't relate to Yunior. Although I feel like I'm a good dude, I've done some stupid shit in my time, ruined what could've been great things, and will always live to regret it. And if you asked me today to explain why I'd done those things, I really couldn't tell you. But what I can tell you is that this book touched me, because I could see hints of myself and my friends in Yunior.

Once again, Díaz's casual but poignant prose helps to craft a vibrant, energetic piece of work that's almost just as good as Oscar Wao, jumping back and forth in time as well as jumping back and forth from first-person POV to a surprisingly effective second-person POV. It felt like Yunior was one of the homies, talking to me over a game of pool, which made the book intensely readable. And strangely enough, with all the cheating and failed relationships going on, the book is a surprisingly spirited and lively look at love and heartbreak in all its forms.
“In another universe I probably came out OK, ended up with mad novias and jobs and a sea of love in which to swim, but in this world I had a brother who was dying of cancer and a long dark patch of life like a mile of black ice waiting for me up ahead.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be respectful