Just ending what was, technically, my last weekend in Hollywood. My sister is coming to town on Thursday, and then the following weekend I have lots of grading, and then the one following that I’ll pretty much be out of here.

Which is pretty cool, so far as I’m concerned.

In the meantime, my sinuses clogged, my throat closed up, and my voice dropped into the sort of croak you might expect from a deaf frog. It’s not a full-on croak, but rather one that’s vaguely heard croaking and is reproducing a close facsimile.

I spent most of the weekend cleaning and packing. In and out of the post office, and when I took breathers, I read The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

I don’t get it. It opened well; the first several dozen pages were awesome; Diaz caught a definite voice and rhythm, to merge into a brilliant, electric patois.

Until it shifted. My problem is mainly that the parts concerning Oscar are awesome, but there are other sections dealing with Oscar’s sister and mother that drag.

It reminded me most of Dracula. I loved the first section of Stoker’s novel, which purported to being Jonathan Harker’s diary, and then the rest of it became “epistolary,” which I put into quotes because it was written as a mess of letters from a dozen people to other people, but they all sounded exactly the same, which was suspiciously like Stoker.

Similar in Wao: the first bit crackles, but then the tones/voices change and the book collapses like a flan in a cupboard. Diaz’s writing lags, while at the same time taking on the dreaded voice so many creative writing programs seem to idolize.

I’ll be returning it tomorrow with nearly a hundred pages left unread.

In the meantime, I’ll be mainlining orange juice and freebasing Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough.