Global Literatures in English

A qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Chs. 1-2)

March 23rd, 2012 · 13 Comments
Uncategorized

Comment here for the first two chapters of Oscar Wao.  Consider this for today–like many things we have read this semester (Things Fall Apart, Beloved, “A Good Man…”, Angels in America, etc.), Oscar Wao begins with an epigraph quote.  But unlike those works, which quote sacred texts or high-brow poetry to give a sense of dignity and grandeur, Oscar Wao‘s portentous opening quote is from The Fantastic Four.  (Granted, it is followed by a Derek Walcott poem.)  What do you make of that?  Why open an ambitious, literary novel by quoting Galactus?

Other Anglophone Caribbean Writers (alongside Diaz, Walcott, Kincaid, and Goodison):
V. S. Naipual (Trinidadian, novelist, major works A House for Mr. Biswas and A Bend in the River)
Jean Rhys (Dominican, novelist, major work Wide Sargasso Sea)
Edwidge Danticat (Haitian, essayist and fiction writer, major work Krik? Krak!)
Julia Alvarez (Dominican, poet and novelist, major work How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents)



13 responses so far ↓

  • 1    Erika // Mar 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    In doing some research on the quote I found that Junot Diaz picked that quote and used it as a question to the writer. What made this “nobody”, Oscar, so significant that a story had to be written about him?

    Oscar was virtually a “nobody” there was nothing so significant that determined his importance to be written of… but now that he has been immortalized, he, himself, came into being out of nothing.

  • 2    cbergmann // Mar 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    The reason I think the author choose to open the book with a quote from a comic book was because of the context of the novel. Although the second chapter really concentrates on Oscar’s sister, the book is named after Oscar giving me the impression that he is really the main subject. Oscar feels like an outcast in every facet of his life and this is expressed in the footnotes: “You really want to know what being an X-Man feels like? Just be a smart book-ish boy of color in a contemporary U.S. ghetto. Mamma mia! Like having bat wings or a pair of tentacles growing out of your chest” (22). Not only does Oscar feel like a freak, he specifically feels like a comic book freak. I am assuming that because Oscar’s life revolved around such narratives that it is a possibly reason as of to why the author decided to open the book with this quote.

  • 3    GordonWTam // Mar 27, 2012 at 1:41 am

    First of all sometimes my thought processes are much like Oscars. Comparing things to comics, and weighing real life situations to them. I think the quote from Galactus speaking to the Watcher is beneficial in this novel in a number of ways. Not just because I think that comics are equal in value to high brow poetry. First of all, the way Oscar thinks to himself is very sci-fi, why not open his book with a comic book quote? Another way is because it is the perfect quote in context. The quote is about insignificance (Earth and its inhabitants specifically) and this is exactly how our main character feels, while in fact, he is the most important person in this book.

  • 4    Jamie Rohr // Mar 27, 2012 at 2:20 am

    The beginning paragraphs of Oscar Wao are dedicated to showing you how much of a geek Oscar Wao is. He is an avid comic book reader and loves the fantasy and sci-fi world. So it is of no surprise that the author chooses to have his opening quote from Fantastic Four. It is taking something from the essence that is Oscar and something that he really relates to. I see it as the author’s tribute to Oscar Wao and what he related to. Making us readers part of something that made him a little different.

  • 5    azaharopoulos // Mar 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    First we should look at who Galactus is. He devours planets and he is a villain. Oscar is not a powerful villain, he is an overweight nerd who is well read. Starting the book with a quote from Galactus is like who Oscar wants to be. He wants to take over this world maybe through his writing. Oscar’s early days were about his insecurities and his inability to socialize with children his age. His constant references to comics and sci-fi make me feel like a nerd because I understood most of them. His sly remarks to the normies constantly made me smirk.

  • 6    jeanine // Mar 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    The author starts off his book with a quote from the fantastic four. I dont find it surprising becasue Oscar Wao is a geek who loves the fantasy and sci-fi world. With that starting quote thats who Oscar wants to be ,he isnt a villian we see no sign in that. Wao wants to be known through his writings. Hes not very well known hes not someone anyone thinks is important but hes mad himslef imortant out of nothing.

  • 7    javeriasid // Mar 27, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I believe the author uses scifi becuase it is relatable to the main character Oscar. Oscar is a nerd and his interests in comic books seems to be because of his lack of social life in school. From the way the author describes Oscar it seems his intrest in the wifi is a result of his failures in life from girls to looks to just about everything.

  • 8    costantinipatti // Mar 27, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I believe he opened this book with the quote because of his fascination with sic-fy, comics, and fantasy. This is also a reflection of how Oscar is portray through the whole book. It introduces us to the world of this character.Whats reality and whats fictional

  • 9    mhealy101 // Mar 27, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    The only reason I would think Diaz would open the book with a line from a comic is because of the traits the main character holds. So far Oscar is this typical pimply,overweight nerd that stays home and is either reading or creating comics or fantasys of his own. As far as right now , the opening seems completely relevent. I wonder if Oscar’s character changes throughout the course of the novel.

  • 10    andycrazn // Mar 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    oscar is a nerd so im guessing he has a wild imagination. but it also points out to something that being a nerd would feel and that would be loneliness. a nerd is equivalent to a nobody in social settings. im guessing that the quote relates to him not because hes a comic book nerd, but because he feels like hes a nobody.

  • 11    hamidah // Mar 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Diaz starts with a quote from the Fantastic Four because to give us a hint on what the story might be about. Oscar is a boy who loves comic. He always imagines himself in the comic books like he has to save his crushes lives because they are in danger of plagues or aliens. It makes perfect sense that the writer starts off with a comic book quote because it is no different from poetry. Poetry and comic books are similar because in these writings we imagine ourselves doing the things we could never do. For example, having super powers or confessing to the person you love or being a hero. Many things are made up with poetry and comic books.

  • 12    gvelella // Mar 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    I too agree with the reason for using the opening quote from fantastic four is to demonstrate the type of person Oscar is, which is a nerd.

  • 13    nmulet // Mar 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Inspiration can come from anywhere. And it seems obvious that the author and Oscar are both comic books fanatics, more so in Oscar’s case. I thought the quote was significant because of the mention of fuku. I’m not sure how fuku will come into play throughout the book, but based on how it’s described in the prologue I can see a correlation. Mutants are humans who either from arrogance or human have become more than themselves, more than human, supernatural. The fuku is described as being the result of the quest for (certain) human domination. I’m not really sure if it’s an entity meant to bring about justice or not. But it is definitely more powerful than we are. So what is a mere mortals life worth to a supernatural being, to fuku? Probably not much. But I’m guessing that’s the point of this novel: to find out the answer.

You must log in to post a comment.