This is How You Lose Her: A Book Review
Most of the books I read for pleasure are older, so this autumn, I decided to read more contemporary literature. I chose to start with Junot Diaz’ 2012 publication, This is How You Lose Her. Actually, Mildly Intoxicated Susana made the choice. Sober Susana appreciated the purchase, though.
This is a compilation of nine short stories–eight stories told from the perspective of Yunior at different stages in his life (some of you may recognize this character from The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao) & one told from the perspective of a laundry lady employed at St. Peter’s Hospital. They’re presented in the writing style I’ve learned is typical for Diaz–informal, obscene, energetic, & witty.
From “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars” to “The Cheater’s Guide to Love,” Yunior loves & loses many women for one reason or another. He is blunt about his questionable moral compass from the very beginning. The first short story, “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars,” begins:
I’m not a bad guy. I know how that sounds–defensive, unscrupulous–but it’s true. I’m like everybody else: weak, full of mistakes, but basically good. Magdalena disagrees though. She considers me a typical Dominican man: a sucio, an asshole. See, many months ago, when Magda was still my girl, when I didn’t have to be careful about almost anything, I cheated on her with this chick who had tons of eighties freestyle hair. Didn’t tell Magda about it either. You know how it is. A smelly bone like that, better off buried in the backyard of your life. Magda only found out because homegirl wrote a fucking letter. And the letter had details. Shit you wouldn’t even tell your boys drunk.
Throughout the book, we see different tales of love. Among them: a man’s love towards his love child (& only son) in “The Cheater’s Guide To Love,” a young man’s affair with a much older woman in “Miss Lora,” & a woman’s illicit relationship with a married man whose wife remains in Santo Domingo in “Otravida, Otravez.”
That’s about it. In the months that follow you bend to the work, because it feels like hope, like grace–and because you know in your lying cheater’s heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get.
Elvis encourages you to try yoga, the half-Bikram kind they teach in Central Square. Mad fucking ho’s in there, he says. I’m talking ho’s by the ton.
Though the paragraph in p. 202 that started with, “Only a bitch of color comes to Harvard to get pregnant.” was a close second.
Line to summarize the book’s essence: “The half-life of love is forever.” p. 217
Recommend?: I would firmly recommend this book. Due to its colloquial writing & short story format, it’s an easy book to read even for those of you who don’t like reading too much. Additionally, Diaz does not present a fairy-tale depiction of love; rather, it’s jagged & real.