Poll test: Who won the Internet this week?

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Book review: ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’

This review originally ran in the Times Union in September 2007.

oscarwaoWow! Or should I say “Wao”?

Junot Diaz‘s long-awaited debut novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” (Riverhead Books; 335 pages; $24.95) is the best book I’ve read this year.

The story traces a fuku, or the “Curse and the Doom of the New World.” Oscar, an overweight first-generation New Jersey kid, is way into J.R.R. Tolkien,Japanese anime and science fiction (he’s writing aspace opera). But he and his family are cursed.

His grandfather, a respected doctor in the Dominican Republic in the 1950s, feared his beautiful teenage daughter would catch the eye of dictator-for-lifeRafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina. Trujillo ruled from 1930 to 1961 and was known to rape the daughters of prominent citizens.

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A vision of America: Witnessing divisiveness together

Debate Watch Party

Debate Watch Party (Photo by Andrzej Pilaczyk)

How are college kids approaching this election? Where I work, we’ve had debate watching parties open to the public. The communal experience of watching the debates have been eye-opening for students, who say that they value the ability to share the moment with hundreds of others, to see in real life and in real time how others — fellow students and members of the community — respond to the words of the two major party political candidates.

The togetherness, the shared experience, are a vivid contradiction to the divisiveness of the campaigns. They are a moment of hope. More photos are here.

The next Debate Watch Party is at 9 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2016. More info here.


A good time to look up

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Nine views of the sky over the past nine days in upstate New York.