The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
How we cite our quotes:
[Oscar] [c]ould write in Elvish, could speak Chakobsa, could differentiate between a Slan, a Dorsai, and a Lensman in acute detail, knew more about the Marvel Universe than Stan Lee, and was a role-playing game fanatic. (If only he'd been good at videogames it would have been a slam dunk but despite owning an Atari and an Intellivision he didn't have the reflexes for it.) Perhaps if like me he'd been able to hide his otakuness maybe shit would have been easier for him, but he couldn't. (126.96.36.199)
"Otaku" is a Japanese term. It refers to people with obsessive interests, especially anime and video games. What's interesting here is that Yunior, our narrator, says that he's able to hide his nerdiness. Wait. Yunior is a nerd? Yep. He is. But he's sneaky about it, unlike Oscar. So Oscar's real flaw, in Yunior's mind, is not the nerdiness itself; it's Oscar's complete lack of pretenses.
Dude wore his nerdiness like a Jedi wore his light saber or a Lensman her lens. Couldn't have passed for Normal if he'd wanted to. (188.8.131.52)
Our narrator makes the point that Oscar's nerd identity is out there for everyone to see. While Yunior hides his nerdy tendencies, Oscar wears his on his sleeve, all loud and proud and stuff. This undoubtedly makes life harder for Oscar.
What is clear is that being a reader/fanboy (for lack of a better term) helped him get through the rough days of his youth, but it also made him stick out in the mean streets of Paterson even more than he already did. (184.108.40.206)
Oscar's nerd identity is not just a problem; it's also a kind of solution to his loneliness. His role-playing games and fantasy novels provide an escape from the cruelty of other kids. However, they also further mark him as someone to pick on. We guess nerdiness can throw a guy into a pretty vicious cycle.