Jan. 4th, 2013

2: Drown

Jan. 4th, 2013 03:29 pm
aslant: (elle s'amuse)
2. Drown, Junot Diaz

I went through this entire collection in one sitting, and it was worth it. I feel more than a little voyeuristic about Diaz's life, the further I've gone into his works. I fell for his longer fiction first (please oh please will his new sci-fi novel come out soon) and it's evident, going back to this work, his first short fiction collection from 1996, how he's changed. And how he hasn't. The narrators in Drown are just as down and out, just as abandoned, just as hopeless or blind or abused as all his other narrators. I get the feeling that part of why he does short stories (which he likes to link together, sometimes you get two halves of the same story, or a crypto part two; fantastic interview about the craft of this technique here) is because it's a way of diving into these terrible painful worlds without going too deep, and certainly without claiming any kind of redemption. I wouldn't claim there's some brilliant feminist turnabout for his more recent characters, but at least in Oscar Wao there was a glimpse of a tiny corner of hope; not so in Drown. Diaz has spoken a lot about the legacy of violence, of poverty, and of sexual abuse, which haunts nearly every character; specifically the rape of young boys, or molestation, or statutory rape, recurs throughout his body of work. What of this is Diaz? I have to stifle a kind of mothering urge about him, as an author. He is a writer making conscious choices and he is not his characters, emphatically. And at the same time I have a hard time keeping that separation in mind as I read. Or I enjoy letting go of that separation, perhaps.

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