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This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
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This Is How You Lose Her (edition 2012)

by Junot Diaz

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1,138667,188 (3.68)98
Member:megc11
Title:This Is How You Lose Her
Authors:Junot Diaz
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

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English (63)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
Well, I just read this book in a day. It's only 200 pages, but I don't do that very often.

It gets five stars because it simply is amazing. And because I had ridiculously high expectations for this book and I was not even remotely disappointed.

All of the little Dominicanisms, etc. in Diaz's writing always make me happy. Sometimes they make me smile, or even chuckle (embarrassing when you remember that you are on the couch at one of your favorite cafes, not in your living room). I'll always remember the phrase "colmado superstar", which he used in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. gave me quality words like "berserkeria". And all of the references to Dominican culture and history, many I am familiar with (Juan Bosch! And one of the characters is from Moca! I LIVED in Moca!) always make me smile, make me rediscover something inside me, this passion that I sometimes forget about. I can't really credit Junot Diaz with that, but I can credit him with doing such an excellent job of weaving all of these Dominicanisms into the Americanisms and the general story. Nothing is superfluous in his books - my all-time pet peeve in writing, which for me is a problem in so many contemporary novels.

His writing is just amazing. I had to stop and write down so many quotes in my little pocket notebook. I know from all of the things that have been written about Diaz, that writing is hard work for him. But you would not know it from his writing; it seems effortless, and if you aren't paying attention you will read over sentences as if they are common and casual, without realizing that they are actually highly unique. That is, I think, why his writing works. He doesnt write stories peppered with beautiful sentences. Anyone with a little discipline can do that. Diaz writes stories that have incredible descriptive power, with sentences that also happen to be beautiful. But then there are also many, many sentences that are just real. (I'm kicking myself for not having written it down, and now I can't find it, but in one sentence he uses the word "conducted" in such a way that I didn't notice it, then did a double-take and was amazed with the originality of the sentence, which created such a specific and precise image.)

Long story short, this is a book about love but it is a book about so much more than that. It is about biculturalism and it is about aging and it is about father issues and mother issues and sibling issues and immigrant issues. It is about the minefield that is dating and it is about all of the ways people can hurt each other and all of the chances they have to forgive and to apologize, all the little things that would be so simple for them to do but that really are the most difficult thing in the world.

Also, it has baseball in it, so what's not to love? ( )
  GraceZ | Sep 6, 2014 |
I adored Oscar Wao, and I liked most of these stories a lot when I read them in the New Yorker. But somehow, reading them all together (along with the few I hadn't seen elsewhere), Yunior & his behavior towards women got to be a little much for me. He just didn't endear himself to me as much as poor Oscar. ( )
  lexmccall | Sep 3, 2014 |
I loved Diaz's Oscar Wao novel, so I was looking forward to this one. Too bad it doesn't have anywhere near the depth of the earlier work.

I will say that the writing remains wonderful--powerful, evocative, and provocative. Diaz wields language as a weapon and doesn't pull any punches. That's the good news.

And now for the not-so-good. As others have commented, most of the women in this series of stories are ciphers--they're there only for Yunior to take from or (grudgingly) give to. None of the characters are sympathetic, either, which makes it hard to relate to or root for them.

These stories aren't told in chronological order, making the narrative arc a bit scattered. More important, Yunior doesn't appear to learn anything or grow from his dealings with women over the book's course. Why bother telling his story if he ends up thinking of women the same way as in the beginning? Disappointing. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
Original post at Book Rhapsody.

***

Cheaters, Beware

This Is How You Lose Her is a collection of stories that revolves around the both charming and incorrigible Yunior. Readers of Diaz’s earlier works will find him familiar; the Pulitzer Prize winner The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao features him as one of the narrators. In this collection, instead of telling us the (mis)adventures of Oscar, he relates to us various stories about his (mis)adventures with random women. It’s not so bad, isn’t it? But the problem is, these (mis)adventures take place while he is in a relationship.

Most of the stories are confidences of Yunior’s illicit affairs. It’s something that I feel strongly against because I am a faithful person in terms of romantic relationships and I feel that cheating is something that cannot be excused. Why cheat when you can get out of the relationship that you’re in? I know this would involve a heavy study of the too complex human behavior and I am not going to attempt to do that.

What I’m going to do instead is to describe the prose. Yunior can speak a number of languages. Yes, the text is nuanced with Spanish phrases that make it very sexy, racism aside, but more important than that is the variety of audiences that he can reach. Yunior writes in the language of his native Dominican Republic, the ghetto, the academe, and of course, the language of the heart.

This is the perfect place for insight, for a person to become somebody better. The Vice-President probably saw his future self hanging in this darkness, bulldozing the poor out of their shanties, and Barbaro, too–buying a concrete house for his mother, showing her how to work the air-conditioner–but, me, all I can manage is a memory of the first time me and Magda talked. Back at Rutgers. We were waiting for an E bus together on George Street and she was wearing purple. All sorts of purple.

And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end.

I cry, and when they pull me up the Vice-President says, indignantly, God, you don’t have to be a pussy about it.


That is taken from The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, a story about Yunior’s last ditch attempt to save his relationship with Magda. This pretty much sets the mood of the collection. Imagine a man hanged upside-down to get a view of a hole in the ground with loose change falling out of his pockets. Imagine him not wondering about what he could possibly see in that hole but thinking instead of a crumbling relationship. Imagine his pain of losing Magda. Imagine his regret.

Another story, Alma, works on the same lines. This one is a little tighter though, and it all takes place in a flash, a mere four pages. Miss Lora, however, is longer and talks of Yunior’s early lessons in the art of sex with no less than an older teacher at his high school.

There are also stories that are not solely about Yunior. Rafa, his older brother, steals the limelight in a number of stories. The reader could feel the rivalry between the two, but one could sense that their relationship is not just about getting back at each other. The two may never reconcile as loving brothers should, but it doesn’t change that Yunior, the younger brother who worships his older brother with such hatred and helplessness, is haunted by his memory.

The most beautiful story here is Invierno. It’s not about infidelity per se. We are taken back to Yunior’s past as a kid who has been recently taken to America by his womanizing Papi, along with Rafa and their Mami. Leaving the equatorial climate of DR makes them alienated with all the snow surrounding them, and they are advised by their Papi to lock themselves up to keep warm. No playing outdoors, no chatting with neighbors. Yunior, Rafa, and Mami look at the strange world outside until one day, they come out and familiarize themselves with the falling snow while they pick up a new perception of life.

You might care to ask how Yunior gets caught every time he does what he does. In most cases, he leaves written evidence for the girls to see. Mind you, these are not merely love letters but journals. Yunior is as much a writer and professor as his creator is, and one can’t help but wonder if this collection has autobiographical hints.

Now that we have answered the how, let’s go to the why. Why does Yunior do it? Even with The Cheater’s Guide to Love, we can’t tell exactly. Still, we could count on the stories that he tells us both unreliably and truthfully, and glean from it the struggles of a heart divided by the too complex human behavior. ( )
  angusmiranda | Jun 10, 2014 |
A well-written collection of short stories, but overrated and repetitive. After about 120 pages, I lost interest and stopped reading.
  marthaearly | Jun 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
The strongest tales are those fueled by the verbal energy and magpie language that made “Brief Wondrous Life” so memorable and that capture Yunior’s efforts to commute between two cultures, Dominican and American, while always remaining an outsider.

“This Is How You Lose Her” doesn’t aspire to be a grand anatomy of love like Gabriel García Márquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera” — which opens out into a luminous meditation on the varieties of love and loss and the persistence of passion — but it gives us a small, revealing window on the subject.
 
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Epigraph
Okay, we didn't work, and all

memories to tell you the truth aren't good.

But sometimes there were good times.

Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep

beside me and never dreamed afraid.



There should be stars for great wars

like ours.

Sandra Cisneros
Dedication
For Marilyn Ducksworth and Mih-Ho Cha honor of your friendship, your fierceness, your grace
First words
I'm not a bad guy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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He Loves her
     He Loves her also
     He loses both

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Presents a collection of stories that explores the heartbreak and radiance of love as it is shaped by passion, betrayal, and the echoes of intimacy.

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