This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. Publisher: Riverhead Books (September 2012). Fiction. Hardcover. 224 pages. ISBN: 978-1-59448-736-1.
“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.”
It’s impressive when an author writes gritty, contemporary stories that immediately immerse you in another culture. Ones that burst from the page, splattered with Spanish phrases, nasty language and colorful descriptions like firecrackers. In his new collection of stories, Junot Diaz writes about the Dominican culture in an honest poetic way. Often I don’t want to read short stories without a reflective break but in this case I couldn’t stop once I started. Most of the stories center on young Yunior and develop a smooth cohesiveness about his past loves. I adore the way that the narrative feels like Yunior’s talking directly to the reader. Just baring his true feelings. Bursting with confidence and worries and bravado and doubt. You have to be quite brilliant to write in this manner. The prose is simultaneously simple and complex yet remains raw, visceral. The stories brim with daring construction, choice vocabulary and vibrant characters. The best stories are “The Pura Principle,” “Miss Lora” and the one Yunior-free one “Otravida, Otravez.”