badgerbag: (Default)
I bought The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on [ profile] ethereal_lad's recommendation but was afraid it would be too literary for me, too New Yorker-ish and twee.

No! Not at all!

It's GREAT! I was drawn in immediately. By page 3 I was laughing hysterically and yelping to everyone in the house about the fantastic characters, the jokes, and the footnotes which are half about Dominican history and half quotes from the Silmarillion. Oscar's story, his sister's, his mom's, U.S. pop culture, geek culture, the history of Trujillo and the politics of the D.R. for the rest of the century, everything mixes up together to build an amazing, intense, and deeply nerdy view of the world. If you're a science fiction or comic book or role playing game geek, bump this book up to the top of your reading list.

Don't worry about not getting the Spanish bits, that is what the Internet is for. Look it up if you must. But you can enjoy the book without knowing what "carajo" or "coñazo" means. It's just more fun if you do know.

Note that you can buy it in Spanish if you like.


I just noticed Junot Díaz is really, really cute.

badgerbag: (Default)
OMG! A few days ago I was thinking of this book that I loved when I was little -- Rebecca's War -- about a teenage girl left to be the head of her household in Philadelphia when the British invade the city. I remember how she was brave and resourceful. It was a good thing to fall asleep to, to pretend to be in her situation, carrying supplies to the prisoners and evading the soldiers on ice skates, keeping secrets about smuggled stuff and privateers, keeping her brother and sister fed, and how she made friends with the wounded British officer who was quartered in her house who had grudging respect for her even as he in the end discovers her loyalty to the rebel country is way stronger than their friendship. Because I just read this long biography of Benjamin Franklin, I thought of the strong impression I had of the history of the revolution and realized much of it was from this children's book.

Sooooo I just started it tonight and it's FANTASTIC. It's way better than I remember -- in other words better than I knew how to judge when I was a kid or a teenager. It's well written! It's crammed with actual history and realistic detail! I've read a ton of history and personal narrative of the time, and it fits right in. The character of Rebecca IS brave and resourceful and cool and feminist. The author, Ann Finlayson, has written a bunch of non-fiction & history books - now I'm very curious to find any other fiction by her.

There was just a scene of lovely subtlety when Rebecca dodges and darts and lies and tricks her way in to General Cornwallis's offices, to ask him to tell the mean officer quartered on them that he has to get out of her dead mother's room where she and her sister and brother are staying, with all their nice things and the SECRET COMPARTMENT, and he shuffles her off to an aide de camp, who remarks finally, WHAT... you mean to say you have bothered the GENERAL, to have your lodger moved across the hall? She agrees. The beautiful bit is his throwaway comment, something like "...even their children!" In other words that even the little teenage girls of the rebels are bold and demanding and irrepressible.

What a great book. Okay, I'm going back to it. I'm so pleased that it's not just good - but waaay better!

June 2017

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