Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Drown, by Junot Díaz

After Oscar Wao, I couldn't really not go and immediately read Díaz's earlier work; if there were another book out there by him, I would be reading it now. I'd like to read Drown again, but I never allow myself the luxury of reading something twice in succession; with all the books on my shelves waiting to be at least formally scorned for something else, I have no business indulging in one book on repeat.

But I'd like to.

It could be simply that I've fallen for Díaz's stories and tone in the same way and for the same reasons that his women characters fall for his men. They are rough and indifferent, but they give you the sense that if they do speak softly and even gently to someone, it is to you, that if someone can see the quiet core beneath the badass exterior, it is you, fair reader.

There is a very masculine charm about the way Díaz measures his sentimentality, smashing things around with heavy actions and gruff, unadorned dialogue, but relenting momentarily in exactly the right spots to let a note of not-too-raw-but-recent emotion build, and then be disrupted casually by another voice.

It could also be the rather simple fact that Díaz's stories are exciting in a very basic sense: while no story reaches after any sort of suspense, the lives of the characters are alluring in their illicitness, their anger-fringed aimlessness, and their—well, in short, their difference from any conceivable path my life could take. One feels liberated by reading of people with so few of the securities I will probably work throughout my life to obtain and maintain.

My two posts on Díaz have been mostly taken up with recording and describing my reaction—strong as it is—to his books rather than with any analysis of his work. It is not my intention to slight them as being somehow not critically provocative, but merely rather to find an outlet for my enthusiasm. However, I'll try to put together some more analytic thoughts on both Díaz's books soon.

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