The most impressive thing about this book is its honesty.
Diaz presented the anthology and its narrator Junior as “quasi-autobiographical,” and that alone took a lot of balls, because opening up the entirety of this book to speculation as a true reflection of the author — well. It’s not flattering.
It’s a book about serial cheating, with a great deal of raunchy descriptions of women’s bodies and sex. It’s well written and infused with the Dominican immigrant culture, which made the read (or listen, in this case) much easier for me than it would have been in the hands of another author. Also, Diaz is quite funny at times, and he does a great job reading his book. Wonderful inflection and pacing.
It wasn’t just the honesty about his lack of faithfulness that impressed me. There’s a series of stories about Junior’s brother Rafa, who died of leukemia in his late teens. The moral of that story was, simply, “Brothers dying of cancer are a pain in the ass.” Diaz didn’t flinch away at all from portraying Rafa as incredibly difficult and unsympathetic (stealing money from his mother, stealing her very mattress) right to the end.
Also, I was pleased I had just enough Spanish to get by, most of the time.
But I don’t know if I’d recommend it to others — not unless I met someone with a specific interest in the Dominican immigrant experience, with a side of rampant womanizing.