Review of This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

SFFaudio Review

This Is How You Lose HerThis is How You Lose Her
By Junot Díaz; Read by Junot Díaz
5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2012
ISBN: 9781611761108
Themes: / short stories / relationships / childhood / immigrant experience /

Publisher summary:

On a beach in the
Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a
hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing
and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his
only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories
is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose
longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the
extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss
Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love
of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that
is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in
This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable
weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs
over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, is one of my favorite books, featuring the best geeky character I have ever come across in fiction.  Since Díaz is most often talked about in literary circles and not science fiction and fantasy, you may be unfamiliar with his work, but this is your warning that he is coming into our arena!  He was included in the recent (and only) science fiction issue of the New Yorker, and is currently working on a post-apocalyptic novel.

What I loved about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is present in these stories, which all jump off of Yunior, one of the characters in the novel.  They are all read by the author, which really brings them to life.  At five discs, this is a quick but enjoyable listen.  I went back and listened to a few more than once.

More than anything, it is the writing that draws me in.  The way Díaz captures how people think about relationships, about sex, and interact with and treat each other rings true; the characters that morph between the Dominican Republic and the USA, struggling to fit in (and deal with snow, haha) are flawed in honest ways.  There is not any explicit reference to geekdom like there was in Oscar Wao, but readers who know the character of Yunior from the novel will know more about his background.

A few quotations from the stories:

from Nilda

“The newest girl’s called Samantha and she’s a problem. She’s dark and heavy-browed and has a mouth like unswept glass – when you least expect it, she cuts you.”

from Flaca

“‘It wasn’t supposed to get serious between us. I can’t see us getting married or nothing.’|
And you nodded your head and said you understood. And then, we fucked, so we could pretend that nothing hurtful had just happened.”

“Do you remember? When the fights seemed to go on and on, and always ended with us in bed, tearing at each other like maybe that could change everything.”

Posted by Jenny Colvin

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