Saturday, June 8, 2013

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

A guy keeps trying but can’t get love right

The point of this short story collection is the voice, readable and funny and vulnerable. The lyrical voice pulls you along, the reader identifying with the smart smartass narrator Yunior. The dialogue is also incisive. I read many of these stories separately in different magazines and loved them, however, reading them one after the other, I felt the power was dissipated. (Perhaps that is the case with all story collections) There was a sort of sameness to them. The stories are about romantic love, unrequited love for the most part. I began to see that maybe the subject of love is slight and one note. 

The stories are also about machismo, the Dominican variety, and how Yunior both identifies and is trapped by the family expectations on how a Dominican man is supposed to behave. His cruel tomcatting father is one thing but his beloved doomed older brother, Rafa, who also treats women terribly and whom Yunior adores, is another. Are you less of a man to be faithful to one woman? To give your power away? And what about the brotherhood? Fidelity is not looked upon honorably. I loved The Sun, the Moon and the Stars, in which a guy realizes he really blew it when he cheated on his fiancé. She won’t forgive him. Miss Lora, in which precocious high school student Junior becomes the (unwilling) lover of a skinny older teacher, was also wonderful. And The Cheaters Guide to Love – regret imparts an instant spine to this story.

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