In his new collection of stories Junot Diaz writes,
“If this was another kind of story, I’d tell you about the sea. What it looks like after it’s been forced into the sky through a blowhole. How when I’m driving in from the airport and see it like this, like shredded silver, I know I am back for real. I’d tell you how many poor motherfuckers there are. More albinos, more cross-eyed niggers, more tigueres than you’ll ever see. And I’d tell you about the traffic : the entire history of late-twentieth-century automobiles swarming across every flat stretch of ground, a cosmology of battered cars, battered motorcycles, battered trucks, and battered buses, and an equal number of repair shops, run by any fool with a wrench. I’d tell you about the shanties and our no-running-water faucets and the sambos on the billboards and the fact that my family house comes equipped with an ever-reliable latrine. I’d tell you about my abeulo and his campo hands, and I tell you about the street I was born, Calle XXI, how it hasn’t decided yet if it wants to be a slum or not and how it’s been in this state of indecision for years.
But that would make it another kind of story, and I‘m having enough trouble with this one as it is. You’ll have to take my word for it. Santo Domingo is Santo Domingo. Let’s pretend we all know what goes on there.”
I love this.
I love that in telling us, the readers, what he would tell us if this were another kind of story, he tells us anyway. I guess it’s an artifice. A clever technique. Maybe he feels the character wouldn’t talk to us in this way but Junot, well, he really wants us to know this stuff. And I’m glad he does.