Junot Díaz / The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao / 2007

photo by joshua meierDon’t worry, when you have kids they won’t know the U.S. Occupied Iraq either. It was his good fortune that the libraries of Paterson were so underfunded that they still kept a lot of the previous generation’s nerdery in circulation. Since he could no longer be a gamemaster he decided to try his hand at becoming a real writer. The only thing that came close was how he felt about his books. Oscar waits with a gun. He wanted to blame the books […] but he couldn’t– he loved them too much. So now you’re punk? Yes, I said. Oscar would lamely try to ask me what was going on. Beli stared at the hurricane whorl at the back of Jack Pujol’s crew cut. Beli’s supersonic culo pulls the windows from out their motherfucking frames. She had been waiting for something exactly like her body her whole life. Beli says “All I wanted was to dance. What I got instead was esto.” The Gangster uses the money to buy a new suit and four pairs shoes. He sucks whiskey from the navels of underage whores. He wants to spoil Beli senseless. He says to Beli, You have to be bold, “and for that he must be honored, no matter what happened in the end.” The bottle Beli is holding has bloody hair on it. One of the authors of the King James Bible traveled the Caribbean, with footnote, In my first draft, Samana was actually Jarabacoa. Beli and the Gangster drink until the meat behind their eyes throbs. He lies in a hammock emitting gases. By the goat carcass sits a man with no face. Beli is pregnant, puts crushed jasmine in her underwear. Gangster tells Beli he is married to a Trujillo. Wife says, Soy Trujillo. Cop in car doesn’t have a face. Juan w/machete says You alone her! The wife of the dentist comes to pray. Praying woman loses ability to determine right from wrong. Beli’s fear is like waking in the night seeing a man standing over the bed, sustained indefinitely. Beli scratches words in the dust with a stick. Beli is naked, blood-spattered. The lead singer says “It’s a girl!” Many Watchers suspect that the Mongoose arrived to our world from another, but to date no evidence of such a migration has been unearthed. Oscar drinks 2 bottles 151. Oscar writes 15 pages per day. Yunior delivers pool tables. Oscar tears the goth’s posters. Oscar sees what he would later call the Golden Mongoose. “I don’t believe in that shit, Oscar. That’s our parents’ shit.” “It’s ours too.” Yunior doesn’t win creative writing prize, but kinda had been hoping.

Max says I’m so lucky every time we fucked. Abelard gets on all fours to examine horseshoe crabs. Abelard writes “maybe” on the back of his hairy hands. Trujillo takes women away from their husbands on their wedding nights. Jacqueline’s name is underlined three times on the invitation. Daughter hunched over French books. Atomic eyes open over civilian centers in Japan. Fear, as Dune teaches us, is the mind killer. Abelard is made to wear La Corona. Standing in a field, he looks at his hands. Beli’s “father” splashes oil on her back. La Inca dresses Beli and photographs her in front of the house. La Inca tells Beli that her father was a doctor, her mother a nurse. Lola aborts her pregnancy. Oscar shrugs, I guess I want to try something new (visit DR). Breaking down, Beli says in a little girl voice, Madre, I’m home. After/after/after he caught a cold because his abuela set the air conditioning in the room so high (etc.). Ybon asks, What are you reading? Oscar says, Do you know her father worked for the PHONE COMPANY? Look, he’s writing Suburban Tropical now. Ybon named her sons Sterling and Perfecto. She tells Oscar about a trip she took, sometimes the trains would go so slow you could have plucked a passing flower without disturbing its neighbors. Oscar never considered the fact that when a Dominican cop says he wants to meet you he ain’t exactly talking about bringing you flowers. Don’t go yet. Wait till I’m asleep. Cop’s shoes shiny as scarabs, brings his cousins Johnny Walker Black. The batteries are dead in the flashlight, they have to go to town. Which will it be, muchacho? More or less? ___ ____ ___, said the Mongoose. Cop puts 44 Magnum in Ybon’s vagina, asks who she really loves. She loves you/I know that (pacing). Oscar says he liked Ybon’s haircut, she started laughing and crying and said really? You don’t think it makes me look cheap? Yunior tried to say the words that could have saved us, ___ ____ ___. So this is what everybody’s always talking about! Diablo! If only I’d known. The beauty! The beauty!

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