Monday, September 7, 2009


Most people who know me know that I have a hard time picking which book to read next. In fact, I think that's why I get half the recommendations that I do--"you don't like what you're reading? Read this!" "This" ends up being worse--not because the other person has bad taste or because the other person has picked a freakin' GENRE novel or because it's not a novel, etc--but because it becomes assigned reading. I have to read it because it was JUST...SO...GOOD...I...LOVED...IT...YOU...HAVE...TO...READ...IT...

Not that that hasn't worked. I loved "The Time Traveler's Wife" on recommendation. I loved "The Water In Between" on recommendation. But most of the time I put the recommended book back down and mutter an ungrateful "thanks" to the person who insists that I read it.

Somewhere along the line, I'm sure, someone recommended "The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao." And somewhere along the line I stuck it on the Kindle and forgot it. Tip: You don't want to read this book on the Kindle if you want the full effect. Many of the pages have lengthy and funny footnotes on them, and the Kindle stacks them all at the end like a pile of firewood--it's an intricate video game that I quickly gave up on. Add insult to injury here: a third of the book is written in conversational/slang Spanish. I don't even know proper Spanish, except maybe si se puede and Embarcadero and Adios. THIS BOOK SCREAMED TO BE PUT DOWN. And yet I read the whole thing.

If you let go of something you don't have time to make important, then yes, the whole intention becomes different, but then the book became mine. I started to get the hang of the Spanish. I couldn't tell you what the words meant, but I could tell you what they FELT. I couldn't tell you what the footnotes said, but I came up with some pretty funny ones myself. I just may go back to this book someday, and read it with the extra stuff and a copy of a Spanish/English dictionary at my elbow, but this was a great experience, even pared down.

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