Posts Tagged ‘family’

3. “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist-Fight in Heaven,” Sherman Alexie

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I had all sorts of quotes here, but they got erased, and I am annoyed.

Page count: 240
Page total: 989


19. “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” Junot Diaz

March 24, 2010 1 comment

This is at least the third time I have checked this book out of the library and only the first time I made it beyond twenty pages. This isn’t because it isn’t a good book– it was excellent– or that those pages were slow, it just somehow always got bumped by other books. This is weird because it’s right up my alley. It’s a sort of cultural history of a post-Trujillo Dominican Republic. There’s family history. There’s geekery. There’s a first-person narrator who is fallible, funny, conversational, smart, observant. It makes you feel smarter without actually having to learn anything. I enjoy all these things! Once I got into it, the book was great, and I could see why geeks I respect would enjoy it.

The third part of the book felt pretty rushed, though. I suppose that was the whole rapid-passage-of-time as this part of someone’s life rushes to a close thing, but it felt sort of unfinished. The last paragraph or so is really great, though.

And can I also go on record as saying that I would totally hate Oscar, too? I want to like him. A fat geek with an impressive vocabulary? Have you met me? But damn, Oscar is annoying. Diaz’s writing is impressive in how effortlessly he is able to adopt different voices. I generally dislike when authors don’t use quotation marks because I find it confusing (hi, I am an oddly literal thinker sometimes), but each character’s voice was so developed that I could easily follow.

Page count: 335
Page total: 4,573

24. “Somewhere in the Darkness”, Walter Dean Myers

March 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Jimmy lives with his Mama Jean. His life is going okay– he’s getting hassled at school a little, because he just can’t bring himself to go much these days, but other than that, it’s good. Until he meets a stranger lurking outside his apartment door. The man identifies himself as Crab, Jimmy’s father, who just got out of prision. Before he knows it, Jimmy is roped into a road trip with the father he never knew. And, try as he might, Jimmy’s having a hard time getting to know him, as Crab doesn’t know how to be a father. But he has to try to show Jimmy who he was before he became the man Jimmy doesn’t know.

Jimmy hadn’t been sick as much as he had been tired. It was a funny kind of tired, not so much the kind that you got from playing ball. No muscles ached, his arms and legs weren’t tired. It seemed to come from inside. It was almost as if something tired was growing in him. In the mornings, he would just get up and not feel like doing anything. He didn’t know why.

Oh, Jimmy. Welcome to my life. Call back when waking up in the morning is physically painful and brings on dry heaves.

“When I was a kind, you couldn’t come in here and sit down and have a soda,” Crab said as he eased into one of the booths. “You could come in and buy a soda at the counter and take it out, but that was about it.”
“They didn’t have seats then?” [Asked Jimmy]
Crab looked at Jimmy, then away, then back to him again. “You never heard about segregation?”
“Yes, I heard about it,” Jimmy said. He felt slightly hurt by the accusation in Crab’s voice.
“What was it?” Crab asked.
“That’s when they didn’t like Martin Luther King?” Jimmy asked. “Wouldn’t let black people vote, stuff like that?”
“It’s when they divided the world into white people and niggers,” Crab said. “And they did little things to make sure you didn’t forget which you were. Things like making you take your soda outside to drink.” (121-122)

As much as I like this, particularly Crab’s description of segregation, it doesn’t ring true for me that a fourteen-year-old Black boy from New York city doesn’t know about racism. There’s another part later on where a cop is following them in their car and Crab explains what the cop is doing and how they just need to keep driving like they don’t even see him until he satisfies his curiosity and leaves. Jimmy is sort of dumbfounded by this. Listen, I grew up White in the suburbs. I was taught that police officers were our friends and could be trusted. Kids growing up in cities– especially kids growing up Black in cities– usually don’t have that experience. Jimmy’s a little naive, which I like, and he’s pretty dazed by the experience of getting to know his father (and getting lied to constantly), but this fundamental lack of understanding goes on and is surprising for me.

Page count 168
Total: 14,122