Blame it on the footnotes
I wanted to love “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz (ISBN 978-1-59448-958-7). After all, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2008. I’d read lots of glowing reviews. And a colleague told me it was the best book she’d ever read, prompting her to begin re-reading it as soon as she’d finished.
So it’s possible nothing could have measured up.
But I’m blaming the footnotes.
Diaz is a gifted storyteller, crafting fleshed-out characters that captivate. And then, just when I’m enthralled with the story of Oscar. Stop. A footnote detailing the history of the Dominican Republic. Just as I’m immersed in the travails of his sister Lola. Stop. A footnote explaining the atrocities of Trujillo. Just when I’m moved almost to tears by Diaz’ incredibly powerful usage of the understatement. Stop. A footnote on ... I don’t know what because I stopped reading them.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. I appreciate the skill it takes to so seamlessly move from character to character and era to era without jarring the reader. I just wanted to get lost in this fascinating story, not be constantly interrupted.
- Tricia Ambrose