Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Not wowed by Oscar Wao

In the last few years I've been able to stop reading books without finishing them, which is great psychological progress for me. I used to always think that I should finish any book I was reading, that if I stuck with it maybe it would get better or at I'd reap some reward for my determination. No more. Life is too short to read books I don't enjoy. Books like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

This book has won awards and has gotten fantastic reviews, but it wasn't enjoyable to read. I was interested in the title character, but the book didn't focus on him enough and so what I liked was outweighed by what I didn't. It contained long extensive footnotes that cluttered the narrative. Also, a hell of a lot of it was in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish, and felt left out of some of the conversations.

But that's the beauty of literature. There are so many different kinds of books out there that whatever your taste is, there is something for you. I've moved on and am now reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. This is a book for me, and I'm sure there are others who hated it. That's why talking about books is so much fun, and why book discussion groups can become so heated and tense. Our tastes are so personal and so important to us, we must defend them as though they're our friends. Maybe that's why I was always so hesitant to put down a book I didn't like - I didn't want to hurt its feelings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really interesting! I read this book earlier in the summer. It was a very intense read, from the language to the characters to the story line. I did finish it, but I'm not sure I liked it. And even though I do speak spanish, a lot of the words were Dominican slang, and I don't think the point was to know what it meant, but how it sounded, the intensity of the words regardless of the tongue.
Your post is cool, though - like how we are kind of conditioned to HAVE to finish a book - I think that's probably a remnant of grade school when we had to suffer through Billy Budd and the like.