Review: This Is How You Lose Her (2012)
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? …we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”
-Franz Kafka, Letter to Oskar Pollak (27 January 1904)
Reading a Junot Diaz book, you need to set aside some time. This isn’t something to take lightly, this is a commitment. Put down the book from time to time, take a deep breath, walk around to ground yourself. This is only going to get heavier. Lumps will form in your throat, a panic attack or two might arise, but in the end, however, it is incredibly worth it.
This Is How You Lose Her is Junot Diaz’s newest work that is filled with his familiar underpinnings of Dominican identity, masculinity, fatherlessness, and a tang of bittersweetness. Lose Her follows Yunior from impoverished childhood through adulthood as he moves from comic books to juggling women which leads to the loss of someone incredibly special that leaves him clawing at her ephemeral image through other women. In between, vignettes of Dominican life in America illustrates racism, desperation, isolation, and longing for something meaningful, highlighting Yunior’s internal as well as external battle.
Yunior is an incredibly flawed, but redeemable, man. There is an earnest need for a connection with someone that when it is within arms reach, like clockwork, he stumbles upon himself only to repeat the devastating ritual again. And again. And again. A cheater’s heart looking for love. While one is tempted to judge, empathy trumps finger wagging and one cannot help but feel for Yunior as he struggles to unbury himself from the graves he has dug himself in.
Diaz is no amateur to building damn good characters or stories. Diaz’s previous endeavor The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 and in 2012 he was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant.”
This Is How You Lose Her is available in print and Kindle editions through Amazon.com.