I saw Junot Diaz, the author of the wonderful short story collection Drown, read last Thursday at the Union Sq. Barnes & Nobles. It wasn’t so much a reading as a rock show, with the crowd hooting and clapping furiously whenever he told a joke or read a dynamite passage.
Diaz in person is like Diaz the narrator: a seamless movement between tough, wry, and saavy, and thoughtful, precise, and even a little melancholy.
That said, his badassery as a writer, speaker, and all-around rockstar of the literary world is inexpressable. I command you, my loyal followers, to go see him at the upcoming New Yorker Festival.
Some choice quips:
(On learning a new word) “Ponerology – it’s the study of evil in theology. Kind of like Bonerology, but with a ‘P'”
(On the Presidential candidates) “The candidates aren’t selling you a platform so much as a blind spot. And we like blind spots in this country”
(On shamelessly stealing techniques from other writers) “Your busted talent will make it indistinguishable from the real thing.”
(And finally) “Oh, you cold-stabbed your teacher? Fuck them.”
His new book is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Buy it. If you don’t like it, Scribblerist, Inc. will refund 100 percent of the purchase price.
Seriously, just buy it.