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This Week in Cartoons-Novel about “ghetto nerdity” inspires educational determination to continue

Julio Salgado

Julio Salgado

Julio Salgado

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I will never understand what it’s like to be a black person. I will never understand what it’s like to be a white person. I will never understand what it’s like to have green eyes, be straight, tall or from Colombia — though I can fake the accent pretty well.

These are things that I just wasn’t born with and absolutely cannot change. So when a novel or a movie or a song comes along and totally gets me — add angsty teenage boy voice here — I become obsessed. It happened with Manu Chao’s “Clandestino” and “Welcome to the Dollhouse.”

Case in point: “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”

The 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction is the creation of self-proclaimed nerd author Junot Diaz.

The novel follows the, well, brief and wondrous life of Oscar Wao — you must read the book to find out why he has that nickname — and his constant failure at love. Aside from the beautiful story line of a mega-outcast with a broken heart, a weight problem and a family curse, Diaz takes us on a little-known Dominican Republic history ride.

Being a first-generation college student, having a piece of literature like “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” makes me feel accounted for. The little experiences here and there that some of the characters in the novel have are very similar to anyone who is the first member in their family to go to college.

If you identify with “ghetto nerdism” this book is for you. Growing up a nerd is tough. Growing up a nerd in the ghetto could be a bit tougher. But really, any type of nerdism will do.

Authors like Diaz and the ones before him have paved the way to pursue bigger-than-life dreams. As cliché as that may sound, some of us absolutely need that in order to continue our education without getting easily disappointed if we fall along the way. Or whatever.

-Julio Salgado
 

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