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review 2016-01-25 16:53
Review of Junot Diaz' This Is How You Lose Her
This Is How You Lose Her - Junot Díaz

Junot Diaz was a new name to me when I discovered his enticing collection of short stories, This Is How You Lose Her. I immediately thought that the stories would have been heartbreaking based on the title, but don't think for a minute that failed relationships is all there is to this book.


This Is How You Lose Her was vastly entertaining, and I was really intrigued with Junot Diaz' colorful, poetic but confident prose. The first story, The Sun, The Moon, The Stars, immediately drew me in, and Diaz doesn't disappoint in this collection. One by one, the stories enthralled, sending me rolling on the floor laughing while feeling deeply empathic for the characters at the same time.


The best story on here is 'The Cheater's Guide to Love," if you had to pick a favorite. Diaz doesn't imbue an egocentric literary elitism on this collection. He tells it in a way that modern folks can relate to, without sounding rambling colloquial at the same time.


he paints vivid portraits, and his efforts at brisk but colorful characterization are effective. You get to know these characters in the short time you spend reading about them, and are unsurprisingly drawn into a world outside of your own for the duration of this book. The story, "Ms. Lora," was such an eye-opener. It was juicy without sounding gimmicky-erotic. Latino popular culture has never seen a better narrator. Honestly. Literature should be both fun and entertaining and never more have I been so overwhelmingly won over with such a potent combination.


So, take a trip to Yunior's world back and forth from Santo Domingo to New York City to Boston, Massachusetts. I am now a huge admirer of Diaz' work and being a short story lover, I can't wait til he puts together another entertaining collection. Superb!

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review 2014-12-27 00:00
This Is How You Lose Her
This Is How You Lose Her - Junot Díaz Earlier this year I read Junot Díaz's first and only novel to date, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and was smitten by it. A large part of why that book was so enjoyable was the point-of-view of it's omniscient narrator Yunior. While Oscar was never able to find a girl, Yunior never seemed able to keep one. Díaz's newest book, a story collection, is a sort of follow-up to Oscar Wao, focusing more on Yunior the Dumb-ass, and Yunior's predicament of not being able to hold a relationship; all of them are doomed, but all of them leave an impression.

Although he's a good-looking chick magnet, he always seems to screw things up. He could blame this predicament on so many things, including his Dominican ancestry, his family-life, his rolling-stone Papi, or the influence of his lady-killing brother Rafa. But that would be the easy explanation. This collection of interconnected stories touches on the machismo inherent in most men that can ultimately lead to their downfall in relationships.

I don't know what hot-blooded guy couldn't relate to Yunior. Although I feel like I'm a good dude, I've done some stupid shit in my time, ruined what could've been great things, and will always live to regret it. And if you asked me today to explain why I'd done those things, I really couldn't tell you. But what I can tell you is that this book touched me, because I could see hints of myself and my friends in Yunior.

Once again, Díaz's casual but poignant prose helps to craft a vibrant, energetic piece of work that's almost just as good as Oscar Wao, jumping back and forth in time as well as jumping back and forth from first-person POV to a surprisingly effective second-person POV. It felt like Yunior was one of the homies, talking to me over a game of pool, which made the book intensely readable. And strangely enough, with all the cheating and failed relationships going on, the book is a surprisingly spirited and lively look at love and heartbreak in all its forms.
“In another universe I probably came out OK, ended up with mad novias and jobs and a sea of love in which to swim, but in this world I had a brother who was dying of cancer and a long dark patch of life like a mile of black ice waiting for me up ahead.”
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review 2014-09-11 00:00
This Is How You Lose Her
This Is How You Lose Her - Junot Díaz
The great Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell most famously wrote that "you don't know what you got 'till its gone." What you realize after reading some of these stories is the lack of perspective that enables mistakes in relationships (usually from the men's side) to ultimately lead to the end of said relationship leaving the man desperate for a reprieve. There are small mistakes like forgetting to take out the garbage, coming home late after a longer than expected night out with the boys, or having a momentary lapse where you take your loved one for granted. These for the most part, when dealing with rational people, are forgivable mistakes. What you see in some of these stories is that the young men more often than not make decisions that change the course of their relationships forever.

After conflict resolution has been established/coerced/forced she may say that she forgives you, but you know more than anyone that things just ain't quite right. Over time what you come to understand is that the sparkle in her eye has lost its luster, the room starts to become a little colder when she's around, she's having a few more headaches than usual. Essentially the excitement, the thrill, the enjoyment that you two had together will never be experienced with the same enthusiasm again. That look that you got beforehand, where nobody else in a given room existed but you, will be left for another man, because this is how you lose her. The depressing thing is that if this girl is as good as you say she is, is that you don't know how long it will be before she in fact leave's you, and you will have nobody to blame but yourself. Tick. Tick. Tick. My advice to him is to stick to women that you could care less about because it's obvious some people can't have nice things. It makes the whole process go a lot more smoothly.

The Sun, the Moon, the Stars- A forgiving Cuban young lady meets a casual Dominican young man. The sex is good, but the love is forever one-sided. Initially one seemingly couldn't do no wrong, until they do and changes to a once predictable behaviour are occurring, distance has become longer, and love has lost all of its elasticity. If you could change one moment in time to make things all better, would you?

"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."

Nilda- Every girl wants to be with him, a modern day Don Juan when he wants to be, unfortunately he is more of a fighter than a lover. When anything but home is a comfort to her, she is willing to withstand plenty so she won't have to go back. Forever waiting for her blanket, when one starts to fray she is on to the next one. Like a moth to a flame, she's flying on a path, praying it's a light. Alma- Story of how for a brief moment in time opposites attract, your interests in each other keeps things fresh, new, a welcomed experience. What remains the same throughout all relationships is that honesty is the answer when in the face of the judge, the jury, the executioner. Otravida, Otravez- The struggles that face new immigrants involve the steps in assuming a new life of being a stranger in a strange land, and the leaving behind of your previous life. Some things are hard to let go of, time doesn't make it easier, distance is only a plane ticket away, but day-to-day survival remains your focus. Seeing yourself in younger people makes you realize the way your life could've went, but grateful for where it has ended up and the resolve shown. Like one assumes the debt of their loved one as their own, sometimes their past life must be included as well. Some people deserve a second chance at life. Flaca- One views the relationship as purely physical while the other has higher expectations. Together they use sex to heal wounds. After some time apart one realizes that time doesn't in fact heal all wounds and with that neither does sex. Like Keyser Soze, in the morning, she's gone.

The Pura Principle- Cancer may have stopped some of his girls from making their rounds, but it didn't stop one young man from maintaining his authority on the streets. With his physical deterioration, his inner confidence was shaken and he married a girl that he would have seen through beforehand. One girl stuck by him at his worst times, oddly enough it was one he physically abused over a 2 year period, but it was purely emotional. There are times when you may want to lose the one you have while you think about the one that got away.

"He grabbed me. Any other time of our lives this would have been no contest - he would have broken me in four - but the rules had changed. I couldn't decide which was greater: the exhilaration of beating him at something physical for the first time in my life or the fear of the same."

Invierno- A family reunion after five years apart in New York in the dead of winter. That's enough for anyone to take, let alone a few young children and their mother from the tropical climate of the Dominican Republic. The only interaction with their father after being apart five years is disciplinary. Culture shock to say the least, however it is delayed after spending all of their time learning the language via the TV screen and being secluded in their small apartment throughout all of winter. Miss Lora- As you suddenly lose hold of your only role model that helped keep you safe from external forces, the Cold War re-establishes thoughts of your own demise. A long-term neighbour starts assuming a more important role in your life. Unconventional to say the least, but a presence that was very much needed. Miss. Lora, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?

The Cheaters Guide to Love- Cheating is grounds for dismissal. Dismissal can lead to depression. Depression leads to weight gain. Weight gain leads to attention from woman that don't even compare to the lady that dumped your sorry ass. Settling for a woman leads to uncharted territory because no one woman is alike. Impatience brings you back to square one, depression, body starts to break down. A dose of your own medicine was prescribed for his bad four year case of the ex.

"The half-life of love is forever."

Like all short story collections some were better than others. For me I didn't like the desperation of The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, as a man it made me cringe. Didn't care much for Invierno except for the ending which was awesome. The Pura Principle pissed me off. I didn't care much for Otravida, Otravez. I loved Nilda it was heart-wrenching but I loved it. The Cheaters Guide to Love was funny in a justice be served sort of way. I liked Miss Lora because Yunior kind of lived out a dream of mine that I had at his age, woman probably won't appreciate it like I did. Flaca had a good awareness about it.

The overabundance of Latino slang and terminology was cumbersome, a little would have gone a long way for authenticities sake. The author shows that he has his ear to the street and is a genuine voice for a demographic during the late 1970's and on. This is my first taste of Junot Díaz's work, it won't be my last, but it will be a while before I take the plunge again.
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review 2014-08-12 16:38
A perfect collection
This Is How You Lose Her - Junot Díaz

What can I say about Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her except that it's absolute perfection? Not a single boring story to be found here, and to list my favorite stories would be pointless, as I'd most likely list every single one in the collection.


If you've read his previous collection, Drown, then you'll recognize a bunch of the names. Most of the stories revolve around Yunior and his complete and utter failures when it comes to relationships. Some stories are told in first person, while others are told in second person. Diaz is one of the few writers I know who can pull off second person so flawlessly. You don't even realize he's doing it for a while, because you become so attached to the story.


Even though I won't list my favorites, there were two stand-outs that I want to mention. "Alma," which is the shortest story in the collection, and it has a killer last line. And the final one, "The Cheater's Guide to Love" is an epic about depression, cheating, and regret. The last page or so is some of the best writing in the book.


Diaz peppers his prose with Spanish words, and sometimes complete sentences. It feels so natural, and even though you may not know every word, you have a pretty good idea what he's saying. His prose is also harsh and brutally honest. It might be a bit too harsh for some readers.


If you're a lover of short story collections, and if you enjoyed his previous collection, I highly recommend This Is How You Lose Her. I can't promise you'll like it as much as I did, but I have to say that this will end up on my list of all-time favorite collections. It deserves to be up there right next to Alice Munro, Ray Bradbury, and Raymond Carver. Yes, it's that damn good.


5 stars

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text 2014-08-09 20:36
Reading progress update: I've read 179 out of 217 pages.
This Is How You Lose Her - Junot Díaz

On the very last story. Unless this last story is a stinker--and I really, really doubt that--this will be a perfect collection. I've loved every story. I may not even be able to list my favorites simply because I'd want to list every single one. This is a really strong collection. It can be harsh at times, but there's a lot of heart. And it's also extremely human.

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