Friday, January 11, 2008

More on Wao

As of p182, I still 1) don't know where any of this is going, 2) don't like any of the characters except the grandmother, and 3) have not looked up any of the Spanish out of stubbornness and laziness because I don't think any reader should have to stop ten times a page.

p108: 20 undefined words
p150: 16

Because they aren't italicized, I sometimes don't even know if it's a Spanish word I don't know or an English word I'm unfamiliar with.

Jason, who sometimes reads over my shoulder, took a couple years of Spanish in school and even he says he can't understand what's going on, not even within the context of the surrounding English.

Julia writes:

[Oscar is] uninteresting, nerdy not in an endearing but in an offputting way, isolated, never changes, never grows, is unwilling to try anything.

This is true. What is also true is that I don't like any of the characters because they are all selfish. Except for La Inca, the grandmother. She is the only one who shows any selflessness. Lola runs away and hurts her sick mother, Beli is defiant and for 88 pages we have to hear about her only powerful quality: her large breasts and the effect they have on men, Oscar lives in a world we're told about but never shown.

It all feels like exposition.

I think about Everything Is Illuminated, the descriptions of the shtetl. JSF covered enormous spans of time in few pages, I was sometimes confused, but he also created amazing, sympathetic characters that I was very sad to lose.

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