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September 20, 2008 / chrisisgross

Not Dead Yet

Just very badly burned.

It’s been a bit since I have updated this site. Since that time I am working full time(temporarily) and I have been a touch on the sleepy side so blogging has not had a lot of room in the routine. A bunch of good stuff besides getting paid has happened. As of right now the Red Sox are one win away from making the playoffs again, the apartment has come together(we’ve even had guests), my tomatoes are dying, we are seriously looking at getting a pet and all in all we feel more a part of this city than we have.

Part of feeling like we are a part of this communit is participating in cultural events. On Thursday I went with my main man Zac to see(hear?) Junot Diaz speak at the Herbst Theater as a part of City Arts and Lectures.

For those of you unfamiliar with his work he is the author of a collection of short stories, Drown, and most recently the Pulitzer Prize winning, Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. His work is an interesting look into the worlds of the Dominican diaspora especially the effects of the Trujillo regime(particularly in the novel) on the Dominican, as well as the lives of outsiders in an outsider community.

Oscar Wao is the main protagonist of the novel though he is not the narrator. Diaz spoke eloquently about this during his interview showing the bright academic intellect that he is. It made me feel like I was back in class soaking in the ideas of post-modern fiction and academia. He spoke of informing the work with an unreliable narrator because one of the over arching themes of the novel is how easily we believe an authoritative figure. In this case the fiction of the dictator of The Dominican Republic was comforting to many of the people during his reign. The people comforted themselves by becoming a part of this fiction. By using the unreliable character of Junior to recite the story to the reader you as the reader are expected to do the work.

Or as Diaz put it in response to a question about the accuracy of the footnotes he uses(one of which tells you later that that one of the first footnotes was wrong) “Fuck. You’ve got to do the work Motherfucker!” I am obviously paraphrasing since I was only listening and not taping the presentation.

If you want to hear his language(coding as he referred to it) KQED runs the interviews on air(Diaz is 11/10), but to me it was a wonderful blend of Jersey with Academia that could switch into Dominican Spanish. He even spoke of the notion that he was not truly comfortable in either language having learned Spanish first and that starting and living in English since he was 6. He was always aware of the construct of each language having to think about his words before he speaks them. The natural fluidity of language is foreign to him.

There is so much more to explore, but to keep this from turning into an academic paper I will spare you, but if you want to know more get the books and we can chat.

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