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I finally finished this last night, and while I did have some problems with it, overall I enjoyed it. Amazon has some good, non-spoilery summaries of the plot, so I'll just move on to my own impressions here.

It reminded me somewhat of Middlesex, in that in addition to the main character's story, it also tells the story of the parents and grandparents. Oscar Wao is only a bit over 300 pages, and yet I never felt like it was rushed, even with a story spanning three generations (and giving time to Oscar's sister Lola as well, and later in the book even the narrator becomes a character in the story, though he is still focusing on Oscar and Lola rather than himself). Diaz has a nice, tight style that I really like. Very conversational, but not padded. It felt a little slow at first, and it was easy to put down and walk away from for days at a time, but about a third of the way in, I started finding it really hard to put down.

It almost feels like it's written in three languages. English, of course, with a ton of Spanish words and phrases (which are easy enough to figure out via context if you don't know Spanish (or like me, have forgotten most of what you learned)), but there are also so many geek references thrown in that it feels like that's a third language as well. I really enjoyed the style of it.

There are a lot of footnotes, which I both liked and disliked. I liked them, because I did end up learning a lot about the history of the Dominican Republic, which I sadly knew nothing about before (the most I can say is that the name Trujillo rang a bell, though I would not have been able to tell you what country he had ruled). But I do dislike getting interrupted in the middle of reading to have to go read a footnote.

As for what was actually problematic... (no spoilers) )

ETA: This review addresses some of the problems I had, and I like this reading of it (though even with that reading, the ending still leaves a bad taste in my mouth).


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