Summer Reading Staff Picks…Part 7!

Check out Ana and Alessandra’s picks below…

Ana recommends…

THE BRIEF AND WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO by Junot Diaz

A good read for… People who are into language creativity, code-switching, urban English, and the history of Trujillo’s violent totalitarian regime in the Dominican Republic.

A brief synopsis… This novel tells the stories of people from the Dominican Republic and their Dominican American children as they deal with Trujillo’s violent totalitarianism, life in New Jersey, college, and love. Oscar, the protagonist, is a likeable uber nerd who falls into a dangerous love triangle that parallels one lived by his mother in the D.R. during the Trujillato. 

So why is it Ana’s top pick? This page-turner challenges standards of language and genre. Diaz’s creative use of English, Spanish, Spanglish, urban slang, etc. in his text represents the definition of America that is often ignored in mainstream, monolingual texts. Diaz also provides extensive historical background (through hundreds of very intersting footnotes) about the Trujillato. 

Ana’s favorite quote… “Before all hope died I used to have this stupid dream that shit could be saved, that we would be in bed together like the old times, with the fan on, the smoke from our weed drifting above us, and I’d finally try to say the words that could have saved us.”

Alessandra recommends…

REALITY HUNGER: A MANIFESTO by David Shields

A good read for… Writers in particular may like this because it explores the gray area between fiction and nonfiction, and the relationship between art and reality (among other things–it covers a lot of ground).

A brief synopsis… The structure makes the book especially interesting, as it weaves together the author’s own writing with (uncited) quotations from other writers, artists, thinkers, performers, etc., to form a fluid, collaborative narrative that essentially reconsiders the purpuse, structure, history, and significance of writing and art.

So why’s it Alessandra’s top pick? Shields is a master at finding quotes & information from a wide variety of sources and contexts, but links them together based on common overarching themes– this is how he propels the narrative forward and arrives at the conclusion that art is flexible, and it’s best to roll with it.

Alessandra’s favorite quote & the book’s opening sentence… Every artistic movement from the beginning of time is an attempt to figure out a way to smuggle more of what the artist thinks is reality into the work of art.” Also: “Reality, as Nabokov never got tired of reminding us, is the one word that is meaningless without quotation marks.”