Posts Tagged ‘sam anderson’

Monday Medley

What we read while exiting through the evacuation slide….

  • Speaking of defense, definitely the legal defense of the week.

Monday Medley

What we read while pondering Meyer and Manning’s respective “leaves of absence”:

  • Some argue that the premise behind this whole Aught Lang Syne feature–that the new decade begins in 2010–is misguided. They’re wrong.
  • A few Mondays ago, we linked to an interview with famed Russian translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. In case that didn’t slake your interviews of literary translators thirst, here’s The Mookse and the Gripes with Chris Andrews, who has done most of the translating of Roberto Bolano for New Directions Press (although NHP did not have the rights to The Savage Detectives or 2666, which Natasha Wimmer translated for Picador and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, respectively).

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and the Condensed Epic

In its review of fiction in the Aughts, New York Magazine implicitly compares The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao—the decade’s “signature novel”—to Infinite Jest—“the big buzzy signature meganovel of the nineties.” According to Sam Anderson, Junot Díaz’s 2007 novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize, represents the Aughts’ literary downsizing, from 1000-page epics like David Foster Wallace’s to 335-page condensed ones like Díaz’s.

Díaz certainly is a meticulous writer and editor: It took him 11 years to write Oscar Wao after his breakthrough 1996 short story collection, Drown. It can take that kind of time, however, when your ambition, like Díaz’s, is to relate the story not just of a single protagonist, but of his lineage and indeed, the culture that created it. In this way, Oscar Wao is a condensed epic: the tale of the de León family as a representative of the Dominican Republic during the Age of Trujillo. It’s a project that would take most writers twice as many pages and Wallace 10 times as many.

The first thing you notice when reading Díaz though is the smoothness of his prose. Liberally using Spanish words and expressions,* Díaz infuses his language with that Spanish quality of words flowing one into the next. There is an effortless fluidity to his prose: Continue reading