So, I’m not sure how much I like this book. Just as I get engrossed in the story, I have some obnoxiously long footnote to refer to. The footnotes are like another story. Half the time I skip over them, and come back, or the other half I try to read them simultaneously and then I just lose my spot on the page (as I rented a large print edition from the library, which I’ve never had to read before and ironically, its blinding me from reading easily). Also, the Spanish which I cannot translate, and all the nerdy references from Oscar – it feels like to read this book; I have to do an insane amount of research. But I do like the basics of the story once all that research is pushed to the side.
Then there were all the Spanish lines. Is it Spanish? Some variation of it? I don’t know. I bugged my roommate this entire weekend, asking him to translate because he speaks Spanish/Portuguese = Spanport? And I remember very little Italian, so the two of us actually didn’t get anywhere with this. As a construction worker, he understood more of the foul language than the descriptions/statements. I was pleased to translate a total of 4 words: �Cono, pero tu si eres fea�. I understood this to be something along the lines as, �but you are still ugly�. Nice momma, for real.
And! All the nerd references. I was nice and lost into the story, and then the narration disrupts by: “Even a woman as potent as La Inca, who with the elvish ring of her will had forged within Bani her own personal Lothlorien, knew that she could not protect the girl against a direct assault from the Eye.” (in my book its pg 227, I have no idea where that is in the class edition) Anyway, these little references kill the story for me. I literally think, “hullo Oscar” whenever the historical story of his mother in Bani gets compared to Lord of The Rings.
Anyway. I also looked up the name Oscar, because I was wondering if there was a reason Foer and Diaz picked the same name. It means, ‘Spear of the Gods’ in Old English, or ‘Lover of Deer in Gaelic’. I guess there’s not really a connection.
There are a few different sub-stories, and different narrations. I’m not really a fan of Beli’s, because it makes me really uncomfortable, but I do like the descriptions of her first love: Jack Pujols, with his ‘Eyes of Atlantis’ or ‘deep dolphin eyes’. Anyway, Beli kinda scares me, or offends me. I can’t decide which. I think as a younger girl, she offended me for her actions and then when she’s older, and fake cries to get Lola back and then smiles like a tiger — that would scare me.
The sub-story I like the most is from Lola’s “friend” that becomes Oscar’s roommate. I feel like I get a more real description of Oscar’s life, or at least the sort of interaction a non family member/non nerd friend would experience when living with Oscar. I think the best part was the questions � the inquiries that the readers were privy to:
“These days I have to ask myself: What made me angrier? That Oscar, the fat loser, quit, or that Oscar, the fat loser, defied me? And I wonder: What hurt him more? That I was never really his friend, or that I pretended to be?”
^ pretty heavy. Especially if you think of all the possible outcomes those two questions can have:
1) Oscar quit because he was never a friend.
2) Oscar quit because he pretended to be a friend.
3) Oscar defied him because he wasn�t his friend.
4) Oscar defied him because he pretended to be his friend.
And then all the lovely analysis for each possibility.
Lola is nonexistent in my evaluation. I like how she treats Oscar, but she made me mad with how she dismissed Max when she had to go back. And then he died, and she says:”what happened was that one day he miscalculated – heartbroken, I’m sure – and ended up being mashed…” the nonchalance pisses me off. “I’m sure”. Hmph. I hope he wasn�t thinking about her when he miscalculated and maybe that little mongoose creature lets her in on that sometime in the future.
Also, wondering if this �mongoose with black pelt and gold eyes� that appeared in Bani�s life when she was beaten, and then Oscar�s life when he jumped will have more of a summary at the end. I find it interesting though that it helped Bani get up, and motivate her with the two upcoming children, but with Oscar: “Dude had been waiting his whole life for something just like this to happen to him, had always wanted to live in a world of magic and mystery, but instead of taking note of the vision and changing his ways the fuck just shook his swollen head.”
And, was kinda thinking about the treatment of women in this novel. Besides Lola, every other feminine character lives a sad life. I found a quote in Abelard’s segment: “Young women have no opportunity to develop unmolested in this country.” The word ‘unmolested’ makes me cringe. It holds true for Bani. And with all the vulgarity I translated, the theory holds true all around.
Sorry for the length. I didn�t know where to go with this. I still don�t know where this story is going anyway. And it keeps changing its narration and subject and languages and reality and nerdism.