Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...
In an interview I read (but can't seem to find) with Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master's Son*, Johnson describes how the individual narratives of the people of North Korea were inseparable from that of their (then) Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il. So too were the stories of those living in the Dominican Republic under the dictatorial leadership of Rafael Trujillo subsumed and intertwined with that of El Jefe (AKA “the Failed Cattle Thief, and Fuckface”).
Author Junot Díaz describes this in the pop culture trivia and Spanish-laced voice of our (sometimes) narrator, Yunior.
“He was our Sauron, our Arawn, our Darkseid, our Once and Future Dictator, a personaje so outlandish, so perverse, so dreadful that not even a sci-fi writer could have made his ass up.”
The sepulchral powers that shaped the life (brief, and wondrous) of Oscar Wao, however, were (are?) bigger and beyond those of any mortal.
“They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles. Fukú Americanus, or more colloquially, fukú --generally a curse or doom of some kind; specifically the Curse and the Doom of the New World.”
Fukú – intoxicating to consider, puts this story on a new vibration that's somehow fundamentally ineffable (which is just a fancy way of saying that I can't figure out how to describe it).
As per usual, I'm not uncovering a hidden gem in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. To be honest, it might have sat on my shelf unread if it weren't for this being a brilliant book club pick, as its title had me envisioning some sort of “triumphant” tear-jerker. However, I did have a bit of fun with fukú in photoshop (which I'll have to off-set with a Zafa! series at some point). So, in lieu of coherent commentary, I'll leave you with some bits and pieces of that (the contents of which probably will make little sense if you haven't read the book, so, you know, read a book).