This Is How You Lose Her

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Overview


Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” by Time magazine and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing itself – with more than a million copies in print – as a modern classic. In addition to the Pulitzer, Díaz has won a host of major awards and prizes, ...
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Overview


Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” by Time magazine and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing itself – with more than a million copies in print – as a modern classic. In addition to the Pulitzer, Díaz has won a host of major awards and prizes, including the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the PEN/O. Henry Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award.
 
Now Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love – obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. 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 the New York Times-Bestselling 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.”

2012 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction
2012 Finalist for The Story Prize

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Even before its 1996 publication, Junot Diaz's short story collection Drown attracted widespread attention as a debut to watch. His 2007 novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao justified that interest by garnering both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. This new gathering of short stories focuses on love in its manifold varieties. This Is How You Lose Her doesn't dawdle or whine; it exposes the risks and, no less markedly, the rewards of yielding to the desires of the heart. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book. (P.S. Among the author's other honors is a 2010 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award.)

The Washington Post
Drown, [Diaz's] 1996 collection of stories, was widely praised for its verve and searing honesty. Readers of that and [The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao] will find much to love in This Is How You Lose Her. Written in a singular idiom of Spanglish, hip-hop poetry and professorial erudition, it is comic in its mopiness, charming in its madness and irresistible in its heartfelt yearning.
—Ron Hansen
The New York Times
…a miniaturist performance—a modest, musically structured riff that works variations on one main subject: a young Dominican man's womanizing and its emotional fallout…This Is How You Lose Her doesn't aspire to be a grand anatomy of love like Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera…but it gives us a small, revealing window on the subject.
—Michiko Kakutani
The New York Times Book Review
This Is How You Lose Her can stand on its own, but fans will be glad to hear that it brings back Yunior, who narrated several of the stories in Díaz's first collection, Drown…Yunior is a gorgeously full-blown character—half the time you want to comfort him, the other half you want to kick him in the pants…In the new book, as previously, Díaz is almost too good for his own good. His prose style is so irresistible, so sheerly entertaining, it risks blinding readers to its larger offerings. Yet he weds form so ideally to content that instead of blinding us, it becomes the very lens through which we can see the joy and suffering of the signature Díaz subject: what it means to belong to a diaspora, to live out the possibilities and ambiguities of perpetual insider/outsider status.
—Leah Hager Cohen
Library Journal
Readers who adored The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award, have been waiting five long years for Díaz's next work. Here it is—a collection of short stories that focus on how love twists and turns us around.
The Barnes & Noble Review

As a critic, I've come to appreciate less-prolific writers whose books gestate over years and aren't released until they're fully cooked. In Mae West's words, Junot Díaz is "a guy what takes his time." After the 1996 publication of his highly acclaimed debut collection of stories, Drown, he took eleven years to complete The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won both the NBCC and Pulitzer prizes. Now, five years later, he's produced a second book of stories, This Is How You Lose Her, which will have to tide us over until his next novel.

I am not going to make the case that Díaz's stories are as wondrous as his novel, but few books are. If you haven't read Oscar Wao, Díaz's vibrant, Spanglish-spangled epic about a cursed, overweight Dominican-American nerd growing up in the industrial wastelands of New Jersey who's obsessed with unattainable women and apocalyptic science fiction, go for it. It's not necessary to tackle the novel before his stories — but it is essential reading. What elevates Oscar Wao from really good to truly great is that it works on both the intimate, personal level and the broader, historical, political level: In much the way that the burning of Smyrna and the Detroit riots underpin Jeffrey Eugenides' tale of mixed sexual identity in Middlesex, and the Soviet revolution forms a backdrop to Boris Pasternak's tragic story of thwarted love in Dr. Zhivago, the Dominican Republic's devastating twentieth-century history under Trujillo's dictatorship reverberates through Oscar Wao's multigenerational saga.

The stories in This Is How You Lose Her, however appealing, can't compete with that sweeping historical resonance, but they do offer a fresh hit of Diáz's loose- limbed, inventive, profane, hip-hopping prose — plus his wise and witty slant on what he has referred to as a generation of hypereducated poor kids of color. You can hardly ask for a better story collection for those who complain that short fiction thwarts their yearning for immersive reading experiences. This Is How You Lose Her pivots around a single character, Yunior, Díaz's charming, roguish, literary, lovesick, cheating alter ego, who will already be familiar to readers of his earlier books — lending a quasi-novelistic continuity to this collection. Even more alluring, Díaz's subject is well-nigh irresistible: the devastating power of love in its many incarnations, whether romantic, reciprocated, rebuffed, maternal, passionate, deceitful, obdurate, illicit, or inappropriate.

As for those who disdain short stories as little more than training wheels for novelists, the truth is that at their best — Chekhov, Cheever, Munro, Díaz — short stories pack more bang per word than just about anything but a sonnet or a telegram. Their more manageable size also makes them ideal for book club discussion. Focusing on just one or two stories in greater detail could be a real boon to members chronically unable to make it through the month's selection in time for the next meeting — as so often happens in my group.

Of the nine stories, most of which first appeared in The New Yorker, several return to themes from Yunior's childhood, including the difficult death of his sexually smoldering older brother after landing "on cancer planet." (In fact, Díaz's own brother beat the odds to survive a similar cancer.) "Invierno" is a sobering tale about arriving in New Jersey from the Dominican Republic at nine (Díaz arrived in late 1974, at age six), to a wintry world that's frozen solid and harshly ruled by a dictatorial, cheating father whose punishments include making Yunior and his brother Rafa kneel on the cutting side of a coconut grater until they bleed and whimper. "Otravida, Otravez," an exercise in literary empathy written from the perspective of his father's other woman, provides a refreshing break from Yunior's point of view.

But the dominant theme of this collection is the aftermath of infidelity — usually from the cheater's perspective — and how love and longing so often outlive the relationships on which they were founded. "The Sun, the Moon, the Stars" channels Yunior's winsome voice: "I'm not a bad guy. I know how that sounds — defensive, unscrupulous — but it's true. 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." Magda discovers Yunior's perfidy in a letter from his "homegirl." Yunior continues: "Anyway, I won't bore you with what happens after she finds out. The begging, the crawling over glass, the crying. Let's just say that after two weeks of this, of my driving out to her house, sending her letters, and calling her at all hours of the night, we put it back together." Alas, broken trust is like Humpty Dumpty. Even a vacation in Yunior's beloved Santo Domingo can't repair the damage. But what this rueful tale is really about is Yunior's blockheaded inability to recognize this, blinded not so much by desire as by his implacable yearning for unconditional love.

Alma is another girlfriend who tires of Yunior's cheating ways, leaving him heartsick and baffled. Her tale is narrated in the tricky second person, which can be a gimmicky way to involve a reader but which Díaz handles with aplomb. The story opens, "You, Yunior, have a girlfriend named Alma, who has a long tender horse neck and a big Dominican ass that seems to exist in a fourth dimension beyond jeans. An ass that could drag the moon out of orbit. An ass she never liked until she met you." So, Yunior objectifies women outrageously — as unapologetic in his lusty machismo as Jim Harrison's roguish, horny half-Chippewa free spirit in his Brown Dog stories. Everything is hunky-dory until, eight months into the relationship, Alma reads about "this beautiful freshman girl named Laxmi" in Yunior's journal. And "Instead of lowering your head and copping to it like a man," Yunior dissembles: "Baby, you say, baby, this is part of my novel." Díaz breaks to a new paragraph for the clincher, which also gives his collection its title: "This is how you lose her."

The question, you may well ask, is why is Yunior so beguiling? How does he attract all these smart women, and why doesn't he lose us in his rake's progress? In the first story, Yunior owns up to his infidelity, and he loses Magda. Perhaps older but no wiser, he lies to Alma about Laxmi, and then loses her, too. What's a fellow to do? Fidelity appears not to be a serious option. Both stories recall Yunior's incorrigible, ultimately relationship-ending infidelities to Oscar's beloved sister Lola in Díaz's novel. Is Yunior a sympathetic cad because he never gets away with it, or because he acknowledges his caddish behavior and is as hurt by his shenanigans as his girlfriends? And how does Díaz manage to keep returning to the same narrative track without trying our patience? The answer, in brief, lies in his energetic, tender, funny, ever-insightful prose.

Yunior is just as baffled and miserable years later in the wonderful final story, "The Cheater's Guide to Love" — a twisted sort of how-to and a fitting sequel to the conniving, "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" from Drown, also written in the second person. ("She'll say, I like Spanish guys, and even though you've never been to Spain say, I like you. You'll sound smooth.")

"The Cheater's Guide to Love" could well have provided another apt title for this book. It opens with yet another cover blown: "Your girl catches you cheating. (Well, actually, she's your fiancée, but hey, in a bit it so won't matter.)" This time, Yunior's email has given him away — fifty different girls over the course of six years. "Maybe if you'd been engaged to a super open-minded blanquita you could have survived," the barely repentant rough comments. But no such luck. "She'll stick around for a few months because you dated for a long long time. Because you went through much together — her father's death, your tenure madness, her bar exam (passed on the third attempt)." Right. But here's the real reason, which explains why Yunior monitors the vicissitudes of his heartbreak over five years: "because love, real love, is not so easily shed." Put differently: "The half-life of love is forever."

It takes Yunior years, but it's a major epiphany, enough to fuel his writing — including the very stories we're reading: "In the months that follow you bend to the work, because it feels like hope, like grace — and because you know in your lying cheater's heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get." The half-life of prose like this, prose that explores and transcends human weakness, should be forever, too.

Heller McAlpin is a New York–based critic who reviews books for NPR.org, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and other publications.

Reviewer: Heller McAlpin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594631771
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 28,650
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Read an Excerpt

Year 0
       Your girl catches you cheating. (Well, actually she’s your fiancée, but hey, in a bit it so won’t matter.) She could have caught you with one sucia, she could have caught you with two, but as you’re a totally batshit cuero who didn’t ever empty his e­mail trash can, she caught you with fifty! Sure, over a six­-year period, but still. Fifty fucking girls? Goddamn. Maybe if you’d been engaged to a super open-minded blanquita you could have survived it—but you’re not engaged to a super open­minded blanquita. Your girl is a bad­ass salcedeña who doesn’t believe in open anything; in fact the one thing she warned you about, that she swore she would never forgive, was cheating. I’ll put a machete in you, she promised. And of course you swore you wouldn’t do it. You swore you wouldn’t. You swore you wouldn’t.
       And you did.
       She’ll stick around for a few months because you dated for a long long time. Because you went through much together—her father’s death, your tenure madness, her bar exam (passed on the third attempt). And because love, real love, is not so easily shed. Over a tortured six-­month period you will fly to the DR, to Mexico (for the funeral of a friend), to New Zealand. You will walk the beach where they filmed The Piano, something she’s always wanted to do, and now, in penitent desperation, you give it to her. She is immensely sad on that beach and she walks up and down the shining sand alone, bare feet in the freezing water, and when you try to hug her she says, Don’t. She stares at the rocks jutting out of the water, the wind taking her hair straight back. On the ride back to the hotel, up through those wild steeps, you pick up a pair of hitchhikers, a couple, so mixed it’s ridiculous, and so giddy with love that you almost throw them out the car. She says nothing. Later, in the hotel, she will cry.
       You try every trick in the book to keep her. You write her letters. You drive her to work. You quote Neruda. You compose a mass e-mail disowning all your sucias. You block their e-mails. You change your phone number. You stop drinking. You stop smoking. You claim you’re a sex addict and start attending meetings. You blame your father. You blame your mother. You blame the patriarchy. You blame Santo Domingo. You find a therapist. You cancel your Facebook. You give her the passwords to all your e­mail accounts. You start taking salsa classes like you always swore you would so that the two of you could dance together. You claim that you were sick, you claim that you were weak—­It was the book! It was the pressure!—­and every hour like clockwork you say that you’re so so sorry. You try it all, but one day she will simply sit up in bed and say, No more, and, Ya, and you will have to move from the Harlem apartment that you two have shared. You consider not going. You consider a squat protest. In fact, you say won’t go. But in the end you do.
       For a while you haunt the city, like a two­-bit ballplayer dreaming of a call-­up. You phone her every day and leave messages, which she doesn’t answer. You write her long sensitive letters, which she returns unopened. You even show up at her apartment at odd hours and at her job downtown until finally her little sister calls you, the one who was always on your side, and she makes it plain: If you try to contact my sister again she’s going to put a restraining order on you.
       For some Negroes that wouldn’t mean shit.
       But you ain’t that kind of Negro.
       You stop. You move back to Boston. You never see her again.
 
Year 1
       At first you pretend it don’t matter. You harbored a lot of grievances against her anyway. Yes you did! She didn’t give good head, you hated the fuzz on her cheeks, she never waxed her pussy, she never cleaned up around the apartment, etc. For a few weeks you almost believe it. Of course you go back to smoking, to drinking, you drop the therapist and the sex addict groups and you run around with the sluts like it’s the good old days, like nothing has happened.
       I’m back, you say to your boys.
       Elvis laughs. It’s almost like you never left.
       You’re good for like a week. Then your moods become erratic. One minute you have to stop yourself from jumping in the car and driving to see her and the next you’re calling a sucia and saying, You’re the one I always wanted. You start losing your temper with friends, with students, with colleagues. You cry every time you hear Monchy and Alexandra, her favorite.
       Boston, where you never wanted to live, where you feel you’ve been exiled to, becomes a serious problem. You have trouble adjusting to it full­time; to its trains that stop running at midnight, to the glumness of its inhabitants, to its startling lack of Sichuan food. Almost on cue a lot of racist shit starts happening. Maybe it was always there, maybe you’ve become more sensitive after all your time in NYC. White people pull up at traffic lights and scream at you with a hideous rage, like you nearly ran over their mothers. It’s fucking scary. Before you can figure out what the fuck is going on they flip you the bird and peel out. It happens again and again. Security follows you in stores and every time you step on Harvard property you’re asked for ID. Three times, drunk whitedudes try to pick fights with you in different parts of the city.
       You take it all very personally. I hope someone drops a fucking bomb on this city, you rant. This is why no people of color want to live here. Why all my black and Latino students leave as soon as they can.
       Elvis says nothing. He was born and raised in Jamaica Plain, knows that trying to defend Boston from uncool is like blocking a bullet with a slice of bread. Are you OK? he asks finally.
       I’m dandy, you say. Mejor que nunca.
       Except you’re not. You’ve lost all the mutual friends you had in NYC (they went to her), your mother won’t speak to you after what happened (she liked the fiancée better than she liked you), and you’re feeling terribly guilty and terribly alone. You keep writing letters to her, waiting for the day that you can hand them to her. You also keep fucking everything that moves. Thanksgiving you end up having to spend in your apartment because you can’t face your mom and the idea of other people’s charity makes you furious. The ex, as you’re now calling her, always cooked: a turkey, a chicken, a pernil. Set aside all the wings for you. That night you drink yourself into a stupor, spend two days recovering.
       You figure that’s as bad as it gets. You figure wrong. During finals a depression rolls over you, so profound you doubt there is a name for it. It feels like you’re being slowly pincered apart, atom by atom.
       You stop hitting the gym or going out for drinks; you stop shaving or washing your clothes; in fact, you stop doing almost everything. Your friends begin to worry about you, and they are not exactly the worrying types. I’m OK, you tell them, but with each passing week the depression darkens. You try to describe it. Like someone flew a plane into your soul. Like someone flew two planes into your soul. Elvis sits shivah with you in the apartment; he pats you on the shoulder, tells you to take it easy. Four years earlier Elvis had a Humvee blow up on him on a highway outside of Baghdad. The burning wreckage pinned him for what felt like a week, so he knows a little about pain. His back and buttocks and right arm so scarred up that even you, Mr. Hard Nose, can’t look at them. Breathe, he tells you. You breathe nonstop, like a marathon runner, but it doesn’t help. Your little letters become more and more pathetic. Please, you write. Please come back. You have dreams where she’s talking to you like in the old days—­in that sweet Spanish of the Cibao, no sign of rage, of disappointment. And then you wake up.
       You stop sleeping, and some night when you’re drunk and alone you have a wacky impulse to open the window of your ­fifth-­floor apartment and leap down to the street. If it wasn’t for a couple of things you probably would have done it, too. But (a) you ain’t the killing­yourself type; (b) your boy Elvis keeps a strong eye on you—­he’s over all the time, stands by the window as if he knows what you’re thinking. And (c) you have this ridiculous hope that maybe one day she will forgive you.
       She doesn’t.

From This is How You Lose Her © September 2012 by Junot Diaz, published by Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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Interviews & Essays

Back into the Abyss: Junot Díz and Francisco Goldman Join the Barnes & Noble Review

Between the two of them, Junot Díz and Francisco Goldman have produced some of the most mesmerizing literary fiction today — vibrant and soulful, often screamingly funny, and always searching. Each of their debuts was selected for the Discover Great New Writers program — Díz 's Drown in '96 and Goldman's The Long Night of White Chickens in '92 — and since then, both have published to ever-growing acclaim, including a Pulitzer Prize for Díz 's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

The longtime friends generously agreed to let the Barnes & Noble Review eavesdrop on their conversation, one that I kicked off — and closed — with some questions of my own. —Miwa Messer

The Barnes and Noble Review: Which comes first, voice or place?

Junot Díz: For my first three books the setting (or place if you will) has always been a given — NJ and the Dominican Republic and some NYC — so from one perspective you could say that the place in my work always comes first. But really what comes first is something even more basic — my desire to write about the Dominican diasporic experience, to write about a movement of people, a set of experiences, a history, which I witnessed firsthand and which shaped almost every part of my life, and yet which was largely ignored, erased, and misunderstood by the larger culture. That was the first impulse, certainly. But with all three of my books there were other very specific evolutionary conditions that made them possible. Oscar Wao for example cohered in a period of terrible distress. All the novels that I wanted to write were not happening. I was living in Mexico City, next door to you, Frank (in fact you were the one who enticed me to come down to the DF [Distrito Federal], thinking the distance and the city would inspire me.) My apartment had almost no furniture and garbage bags for window shades — I definitely wasn't taking care of myself. I was going nuts from my lack of success, and I kept playing the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack over and over thinking that it might spark something.

Now that I've had time to reflect, I realize that in all the failed books I was attempting to write about the deepest shit in both my life and in Dominican history. I was trying to tackle the traumatic after-effects of dictatorship, specifically the afterlife of the Trujillato, starting with my own family and projecting that out to my fictional characters. This was not an easy thing to do. Not for me certainly. I grew up in the shadow of the Trujillato, saw how the regime had ravaged so many families. The sexual violence that the Trujillato deployed to terrorize the Dominican people was one of my principle concerns and given all the silence and shame that surrounds it — no wonder I was having trouble with the material.

So one night we were all at a party with some Mexican actors, and I was drinking beers and listening to the chatter, and one of the actors came up to me and said that his favorite writer was Oscar Wilde, but of course I heard it as Oscar Wao and that was how it all started. With a name misheard. As soon as I heard Oscar Wao the title came to me, and then this vision of Oscar and his sister and their crazy mother and over them all the shadow of Trujillo. I wrote the Oscar section of the book very fast; the rest of the novel came much slower. What kept me going even in the darkest periods was that strange third person first person voice that mixed the nerdish with the historical, which was so vibrant and flippant and yet so dark. Oscar Wao more than any of my other works was a delicate balancing act — keeping the voice from becoming too funny or too bleak, too historical or too nerdish. Drown, my first book, was something else altogether. I was an immigrant kid who grew up in a neighborhood that I never saw depicted anywhere, who remembered a Dominican Republic that was very much alive and kicking. I wanted to write stories about both these worlds. I floundered for years until I hit upon Yunior's voice. Then suddenly the pages started flowing out of me but before Yunior's voice crystallized in my head nothing was working. Nothing at all. Even stories I was dying to tell were flat on the page.

Francisco Goldman: And what a creation Yunior's voice is, one of the great literary character voices of our time! Some people probably believe that Yunior's voice must be close to your own, a directly autobiographical voice. But it's something, as you imply, that you developed. I'd love to know more about what went into your discovery of that voice. Are there earlier versions of that voice filed away somewhere that make you cringe?

The sources of most of my novels have been a mix of things. What is interesting to me is the question of what finally sparks the writing, how do you get to that moment when, as you say, Yunior's voice crystallized and the writing took off.

My first novel, The Long Night of White Chickens, grew out of my immersion, beginning in 1979, in the war and nightmare repression in Guatemala. Sure, I had a Guatemalan mother, but I'd had a mostly typical suburban middle-class New England upbringing. I was so innocent that I thought that our old family cottage on Lake Amatitlán, just outside Guatemala City, would be a perfect place to hole up and write the stories I needed for my MFA applications. When I arrived and told my uncle my plan, he freaked. Don't you know there's a war on in this country! The cottages are shut down, the night watchman who looked after them was murdered, the police station was attacked by guerrillas, etc. So I was forced to live in my uncle's house. That's where it started: when, miracle of miracles, a short story I'd written for the MFA applications was accepted by Esquire magazine, the editors invited me to write non-fiction, and I asked to be sent to Guatemala, and just like that I became a freelance journalist, that's how I (barely) supported myself, working out of Central America until 1991. One of the reasons I was so committed to this was that I thought it would make me grow as a writer. In that grand tradition, I was after experience.

But I didn't know how to write fiction about violence, suffering, injustice, absolute evil, the inevitable political and moral entanglements, didn't really understand my place in all that as a human, never mind as a would-be fiction writer (Me quedaba grande, as they say here in Mexico.) I was obsessed with writers who'd written novels that were also rooted in historical tragedy and violence and that somehow managed to balance light and darkness, the all too real and the mysterious. How did they do that? One of those was Faulkner of course and when reading that he described Caddy from The Sound and the Fury as his heart's darling, something clicked. Flor de Mayo Puac was partly born in that moment, but she was still only an idea for a character. In 1986 Morgan Entrekin offered me a modest advance. I escaped to Madrid, worked on my novel every day, failed every day, had stupid fistfights with Spaniards who thought I was a moro, and a few months later returned to Guatemala having blown my advance, and without a single page of the novel.

One day I said to myself, Okay, this is a ludicrous and complicated story you want to tell, but ludicrous and complicated things happen to people here all the time, and if it had really happened to you, and you absolutely had to tell it to somebody, you'd be able to. And that's how the narrator Roger's voice finally came forward, with him speaking as if to a friend about what had happened to him, and that opening page never changed. Since then, every novel but one has begun with this terrifying process of failing every day that lasts for months and months. I'm convinced that while we are consciously flailing away, trying, say, to find that voice, our subconscious is actually doing the work, laying down a foundation, exploring paths, a sponge absorbing ideas and impulses until it begins to take on the weight of obsession and conviction. Twice, after months of anguished failing, it's been a dream that's finally gotten me rolling. A dream that I was on a freighter at sea with no other person on board gave me the tone I needed for what became The Ordinary Seaman. I'd done a ton of research for The Divine Husband, but when I tried to start it nothing came, I gave up, went back to it a few years later and it was the same. At a party in Mexico City I drank a daiquiri made with bad ice, ended up in bed hallucinating with fever, and dreamed a scene of convent servants searching the streets of 19th- century Guatemala City for a suitable Indian to take back to their Mother Superior for her foot washing ritual, and it was only then that the novel finally found a spark of life and lurched forward.

Say Her Name was different. I began it six months after Aura's death and was helpless to do anything else. Now I've gone back to a novel that I was working on when Aura died. It's a different novel now, just as I'm a different person. I failed at it for much of this summer. The difference is that this time, the weeks of failing didn't panic me, I'd been down this road before and knew that sooner or later it would resolve.

So Junot, my question to you is up at the top. Related to it is another question: how do you find your way forward when you write a novel? Did you know where you wanted the novel to go when you began Oscar Wao? How radically different was that process for you than when you write short stories?

JD: I have hundreds of pages filled with failed versions of Yunior's voice. That's how I roll; I always have to write a lot of crap before anything useful emerges. I don't necessarily cringe. I just shake my head, amazed that I have to sow so much to glean so little.

But I totally agree with you — my unconscious mind does better work than my conscious mind. And it was without question the best guide to get me through the earlier stages of my novel-writing process. In the first abortive stages of Oscar Wao I was trying desperately to write a Rushdie- esque encyclopedic novel about contemporary Dominican history. I wasn't listening to what the writing was telling me — I, Junot, was trying to be in charge. I wanted an encyclopedic novel for no other reason than I wanted it. The arrogance of our executive selves. I lost years chasing that lame dream. Turns out that Rushdie-esque is just not my bag, but I still persisted, writing hundreds and hundreds of pages of junk. All the while my hidden brain was putting together a different kind of book, one that was more fractured and more filled with silences, an archipelago of a book, whereas the usual Rushdie novel is a goddamn continent. Honestly if I'd not insisted, if I'd not been stubborn, I probably could have finished Oscar Wao in half the time. But I kept trying to push my agenda, and boy did my agenda suck. But every now and then I'd put the encyclopedic novel crap down and just play around on the page, and that was when the real work would come out, the sections that make up the novel today. But between each of those sections was always a massive time-consuming battle between my pride and my creativity. Between my conscious and unconscious selves. Hopefully I've learned a lot since that time, but we'll see. Right now the book I'm working on is not going well at all, and I fear I might be falling into the same bullshit pattern. I keep telling myself listen to the work, but you know how hard that can be.

Short stories unfortunately are not a whole lot easier for me. I've never been able to jump from one story to the next, can never build up any flow or momentum. I'm like some shoddy warp drive that has to take long breaks between jumps. As a form, stories require me to be vicious in my discipline. I'm always trying to cut things, to pare them down — excess truly is the enemy. (Not for every story but just the ones that I find myself writing.) There's a spirit of restraint that guides my writing of stories that is not present at all when I'm working on a novel. The novel has always been a lusher process for me, less teleological, more generous. A novel can easily withstand any number of digressions, but rare is the short story that can sustain even one.

In all honesty I doubt I'll write any more stories. They're too damn hard. Besides, I find myself resisting the small canvas these days, wanting to test myself on the longer form. One should never say never but I feel like I've done enough of these bad boys to last me a lifetime.

So let's talk inspiration, Frank. Am I wrong to suggest that your complex relationship with Guatemala brings out the best in your work? Or maybe this is just how I think of my complex relationship with the Dominican Republic. From where did this new book of yours spring? Is it an old dream or something else altogether?

FG: But I don't really think of Guatemala that way, as bringing out the best in me, but maybe I'm taking Guatemala for granted now, because I did learn and see so much there. (I think Mexico City is the place that brings out the best in me, but not in the way you mean.) I mostly grew up in a mean, almost Shirley Jackson type of New England town, that's how I experienced it, where my house offered no escape, where we all lived in fear of my father for one, always angry and often violent, and where my mother, like some kind of Tennessee Williams diva, was always holding Guatemala out as a lost paradise, where her family was respected, a loving and happy family, where we owned toy stores, where I could have a pet monkey. Never forget you're Guatemalan too, she was always saying. So home was also always somewhere else, and that home was this place that didn't really exist. In my twenties I really got to know Guatemala and I learned about fear, every kind of violence, the suffering of so many other people, and so much else, not all negative, far from it, but all playing out on that horrifying stage. The traumatic reality versus the dream of another reality, I think that's a fundamental conflict for me. The reality of death versus the dream of life, that more than anything else intrigues me now, thoug I think it's always been there. I'm probably pretty happy by nature, yet, as for so many others, the reality has often been cruel, incomprehensible, sad, overwhelming, whatever. I'd always dreamed of loving and being loved and had rarely experienced it, and when I finally truly did, it was taken away in an instant.

Anyway, that kind of conflict or incongruity or engaging of loss drives my writing (though if I'm going to be totally honest, maybe all this is just a guess, something that sounds about right to me today.) I partly mean the imagination as refuge and even rebellion, but mostly fiction writing as a way of making something out of words that has meaning and coherence in a world where it's hard for me to find it any other way, or that I could never express in any other way, or just as a way of making something that for some reason I really want to make, so that I think that it's actually writing that brings out the best in me, though obviously not in a social way, the discipline and conviction of it, the getting up every day and working hard at it, living with the mystery and insecurity of it, challenging yourself to be as brave and true and even ruthless as you can or need to be in the writing, and so on.

Bolaño said writers should leap head first into the abyss, but you really can't do that, you'd never come out alive, and anyway, I didn't have to leap into it, I was already there. After Aura's death, I wrote a book that is mostly about her, a very poor substitute for Aura, of course, but something to put back into the abyss so that it won't only be emptiness. The new book is something like that too, an unhappy person, the death of her essential loved one, and how will she live now? Things will happen to her and hopefully some of those will be marvelous and hilarious, but others will be awful. (It's set in a sort of Lovecraftian New England, but it does have Guatemalans in it, and also Mexicans.) I think you were suggesting something similar to all this at the end of your amazing short story, "The Cheater's Guide to Love." It's a story about Yunior's loss of his fiancée, which devastates him, the loss of his great love and his relentless remorse, and in the end his seeming answer to that loss is to return to his writing, and it is such a lonely solution and such a powerful and inspiring one, and I don't mean in a therapeutic way, it's actually kind of mystical. Why is that the answer, or the only way he can find? I know we're not supposed to confuse a character with the author, but now Yunior is a writer, teaching at a university in Cambridge, and so that ending seemed very revealing and hard-earned. You seemed to be saying something about what writing means to you and about why you need to do it. What does it mean to you and why do you need to do it and what is it that inspires you? Brotherito, take a few decades away from them if you want — more novels! — but please don't stop writing short stories.

JD: Frank, no one could have said it more clearly or more beautifully than you so I'll just paraphrase: at the end of This Is How You Lose Her, Yunior, who has lost about as much as he can lose, turns to the writing to put something back into the abyss so that it won't only be loss and regret. In my mind Yunior re-engages with his writing to bear witness, to inform on his self. This bearing witness, this reckoning with self, with all his actions and lies, this shouldering responsibility for what he has done to his ex-fiancée and to the other women in his life, represents a tremendous step for Yunior. A movement towards recognizing the humanity of the women he has so persistently denigrated and in recognizing their humanity finally finding some of his own. This is not insignificant. Not every guy achieves that simple breakthrough in the imaginary that transforms women from objects into full human beings. This writing/bearing witness is a sign that Yunior is finally becoming the person he needs to be in order to find the intimacy that he so desperately longs for but was never able to achieve.

OK, I'll see what I can do about the short stories, but damn, Frank, these things have just about worn me out. These days I'd rather read the short stories than write 'em but let's see what the future holds. I guess I'd have the same reaction if you suddenly announced that you were going to abandon journalism. I'd be like: you better not. Every time I read your nonfiction works, whether it's the chilling Art of Political Murder or your excellent profile on Camila Vallejo, I am forcefully reminded that you are that illest kind of switch hitter: you are brilliant in more than one genre.

But before I lose the thread you asked about me and my relationship to the word: I guess we all have our covenants with the world (or at least we should have). For people like my mother, it's her religion. For other people, it's their children or perhaps their families. For me storytelling is my sacred. About the only covenant I have. As reader and writer I believe in the infinite worldmaking power of stories. I'm with Leslie Marmon Silko when she says in Ceremony: "I will tell you something about stories, (he said). They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death." If I have a faith, that's it. Stories are all we have to fight off illness and death. I suspect Silko's words resonate with you too, Frank.

But there are many reasons, really. On the most selfish level I write to make sense of the universe, to make sense of my self, of my immigrantness, my Dominicanness, my New Jerseyness, my maleness. I feel like I've lived so many weird disparate lives, often simultaneously — DR, NJ, native, immigrant, first generation, Dominican, Latino, Black, Spanish, Black English, Official English, hiphop, nerd, military family, high school dropout, grunt worker, Rutgers, Cornell, activist, writer, professor — sometimes it's hard for me to fold them all into one coherent identity. But in my writing all the pieces of me come together, if not happily then at least beautifully. Writing allows me to be simultaneous in ways that the larger culture seems to resist.

Also: I grew up in a Dominican community that was totally erased, totally ignored by the mainstream. I grew up never seeing myself or my neighbors or my friends in any kind of literature. I grew up with no books or movies or tv shows that reflected my world, my identities, my struggles. The brief instances my community did appear in, say, the news or books it was always as monsters: either some drug-dealing pathology or illegal immigrant menace. The real us was never shown, totally elided. (In college I read books like Down These Mean Streets and The House on Mango Street and Sula, which came close to showing us, but when it comes to seeing yourself in the representational universe close is never enough.) Growing up I felt that absence, that wound, viscerally — who the hell wants to come up in a hole, in a silence? It's astounding how little some of us have in this culture to build healthy selves from. The Jeremy Lin phenomena writ large — some groups have thousands upon thousands of athletes that reflect them — some groups have only one or two and when that one or two appears you suddenly realize how long you've lived with none. If I had to parse my first motivations for becoming a writer down to one it would have to be my profound desire to battle that fucked-up erasure (which is really a violence) by singing my community out of that silence. I guess that's really what launched me into the words — I wanted to be part of that movement of artists that were insuring that the next generation wouldn't have to endure what I endured.

But ultimately I suspect what keeps me on the page, despite all my slowness and all my difficulties, despite the failures and the long doubt, is the same force that returns Yunior to his writing: the profound need to bear witness, to leave a trace, a record, an account of a people that many, including many of the people themselves, didn't know existed. For a people like mine, children of the abyss, of apocalypses without end — from slavery to dictatorship to immigration — bearing witness is sometimes all we had, like firing a flare up into the dark vault of the universe. Bearing witness in order (to quote you Frank) to put something back into the abyss so that it won't only be silence and loss. In order to mark that we were here, we lived, we mattered. In order to have a little light by which to see ourselves and others with, a little light to carry us into the future, a little light to call our own.

FG: You witness a lot as a journalist, and what you witness becomes a part of you. IThe Art of Political Murder is about the nine- year Bishop Gerardi murder case. More than twenty people related to the case were murdered, and numerous others fled; throughout it I worked closely with some of the most wonderful, courageous people, but it brought the vilest people imaginable into my life too. The last two times I went to Guatemala I had to have bodyguards, and was taken out by a side exit at the airport. Just a few weeks ago I received a creepy anonymous twitter message. I don't feel like I can go back to Guatemala right now, I don't want that stress. The Gerardi case was incredibly complex, and it could only be narrated with authority through the most devout attention to concrete detail and substantiated acts. I had to learn to write in a new way, to strive for a transparent style that would let those details and acts convey the story. You're always learning, with each book hopefully pushing ahead. Say Her Name wasn't a book, of course, that I ever expected to write, but one of my writer friends has pointed out that it's as if The Art of Political Murder, with its forensic detail, and The Divine Husband too, which is about the yearning for love, prepared me to write it. Because, as you know, Say Her Name is framed as a sort of trial or investigation, conducted by myself against myself, seemingly in response to the legal dangers I was threatened with in Mexico after Aura's death. I knew that a journalistic examination of Aura's death would never reveal that I'd been legally culpable, and even though I did include those facts in the book, that's not, finally, the mystery I was "investigating." I was nearly finished writing it when I came across this sentence that I love, from Lydia Davis's translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way. "For one thing love and death have in common, more than those vague resemblances people are always talking about, is that they make us question more deeply, for fear that its reality will slip away from us, the mystery of personality."

I've been living in Mexico City and love it here, I have the best friends in the world and am only half-ashamed to admit that this summer I've carried on at times like a wild teenager. Mexico City has largely been spared the violence happening elsewhere in the country. None have it worse than the Central Americans who trek through on their way to the U.S., who get kidnapped by the Zetas and others, their relatives in the U.S. extorted for money, and often they get killed anyway; the Zetas rape the women and girls and kill them, or they take a young man and say, Okay kill those other two or else you'll die too, maybe he has to kill his brother or friend, and then they force him to become a Zeta sicario, or else he refuses and is killed anyway; the deserts of Mexico are filled with the graves of kidnapped migrants, no one knows how many have vanished. What, as a writer, do you do with that? I don't know, but I don't see myself writing about it in a documentary way. But it's something I know about, and that strikes close. After college I got a scholarship to a summer writing workshop where William Gass was a teacher. Gass is a philosophy professor, and when a student asked if his "philosophical ideas" inspired his writing, Gass answered no, that he knew he was "smart," and so he just worked on his sentences. You have to trust that who you are is going to come out in some way. You focus on your sentences or on the most daring and delirious narrative vision, and trust that you'll show up. In U.S. discourse, immigrants are mostly represented as less than human, a policy problem, or as just that, a category, and categories are prisons. The novels I love are prison breaks — what you did, Junot, in Oscar Wao, and Bolaño with the Ciudad Juarez femicides in 2666, Yuri Herrera with the narco war in Trabajos del Reino — the categories get smashed open and the unexpected, the unthinkable, the forgotten, the ignored, the unknown, the terrifying, the secretly beloved, the misunderstood and astonishing, the mesmerizingly human, it all breaks out.

JD: That's what we dream about, what we long for, books like those. Certainly as a reader that's the kind of books I've loved. Of course what you end up writing is something else altogether. You're working on that new novel set in New England and I'm trying to imagine the world of a young teenage girl in Santo Domingo, a Third World striver, the kind of girl that wants to do everything right in a country where for poor people even that can't keep the catastrophe off you. I'm hoping she'll lead me through to my next novel. But who knows — it takes me years of patient scribbling before my characters ever deign to speak to me.

BNR: Before we finish, I can't resist asking you both the classic question: Tell us what books you'd want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

FG: Desert island books, damn. How big is the island, and how long am I going to be there? Long books, I guess. In Search of Lost Time. War and Peace. The Collected Shakespeare. Moby-Dick! The Collected Borges. 2666, why not? Something immense that I haven't read yet, The Man without Qualities. Emily Dickinson's poetry too, which I've been reading all summer. And definitively the Guia Roji, which contains all roads, a Borgesian cartography of Mexico City, as immense and dense as the city itself, but all its maps packed into a single fat book. Currently, for a piece I'm writing, I'm using it like the I-Ching, closing my eyes, opening it to any page, and then trying to drive to the spot my finger touches down on. I've never driven in Mexico City before, and it terrifies me.

JD: Les Miserables is perfect for the stranded. It's immense and has a lot of Melville-esque post-modern outbursts, and it's about justice — few books are about that anymore — and it always gets me crying. I'd also need something from my childhood. Watership Down. Every time I read this line —"My Chief Rabbit has told me to defend this run and until he says otherwise I shall stay here." — my heart feels like it's going to burst. And I'd need something from real life. Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men or Edward Rivera's Family Installments. And something from home (the Caribbean). Patrick Chamoiseau's Texaco or Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban. And a book of poetry. Aracelis Girmay's Kingdom Animalia. And a comic book. Katsuhiro Otomo's AKIRA. And something for the ancestors: Song of Solomon. And something I haven't read before, something that ain't out yet but that will be by the time I'm shipwrecked.

-September 11, 2012

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 154 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 154 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Author Junot Diaz has crafted a wonderful, intensely entertainin

    Author Junot Diaz has crafted a wonderful, intensely entertaining story about Yunior, a young Dominican immigrant who previously appeared as a side character in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao". In this book Yunior is the central figure, occupying a place in nearly all of the nine tales within. The main theme of the stories involves his search for love. Like with most of us, the search contains a myriad of ups and downs.

    Yunior grew up in the macho, Dominican world of his male role models, namely his father and brother. While learning from their ways with women, Yunior finds himself interested in other, less macho pursuits, such as comic books and science fiction. The book jumps from his first days in the U.S. as a young boy (learning to speak English from TV) to his teen years and through adulthood. Diaz's writing is infused with pop culture references (most of which I got), Spanish slang (some of which I got), and Dominican references. The tales run the gamut from funny to sad to uplifting. The chapter about the death of his older brother from cancer was particularly affecting and stayed with me. Overall, it's a fascinating pastiche of stories, all with the central theme of love, romance, and even sex.

    Diaz has crafted a tale worthy of the many comparisons to author Phillip Roth. His stories all intertwine together with a familiar voice, to make a read worthy of a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the complexities of how the male psyche deals with love, culture, and finding oneself.

    If you enjoy this book, I highly recommend that you read Anthony Youn's "In Stitches." This immensely entertaining memoir follows the author, an Asian American, as he struggles with many of the same poignant relationship issues as Yunior, except with a completely different set of surroundings and upbringing. While reading Diaz's book, I was reminded many times of Youn's story, and the fact that our longing for love is universal, no matter our race, ethnicity, or personality. Youn's is a coming-of-age story that made me laugh, cry, and just overall feel. Isn't that what we all look for in a story, and, I suppose, life in general?

    27 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2012

    good not fantastic

    I bought this book for a long plane ride. I love Junot Diaz, really. Like a Junot Diaz/Aaron McGruder slashfic? done. But this book just felt like there was no point. It tapered off at the end and then it was just done. It was certainly a page-turner and I enjoyed it for the duration of the trip, but I felt like it was lacking in completion somehow.

    For anyone contemplating this book and are wary of the reviewers who complained about the "over-use" of Dominican slang, check your white privilege at the door, please. POCs aren't writing to serve you. So, the use of Spanish is NOT particularly harmful, just as his highbrow lit references aren't meant to be alienating (I almost choked on airplane wine when I read the "she Bartlebys me" line) and even if you happen to be white, you won't feel like POCs are out having a great time without you. Unless you're just like that anyway.

    Really enjoyed reading this book, but I wish Diaz had delved more into intellectual discussions of his--sorry--YUNIOR's relationships. Entertaining, but I wouldn't read it again.

    18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Deeply disappointing

    This book essentially is a collection of tales about the main character's sexual exploits with a series of women. It is repetitive and lacks a unifying theme. The frequent use of Spanish without English translation barely disguises the author's contempt for people of non-Hispanic ethnicity. This racism is displayed, also, by the numerous disparaging remarks about white people throughout the book. The title suggests that the book should be about a person gradually sensing signals of a deteriorating relationship and possibly reflecting on words and actions that led to the failure of the relationship. However, the author did not write that book. This novel, which really is a novella in length, is not very interesting. It is hard to believe that the author previously won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing. Such talent is not displayed in "This Is How You Lose Her".

    17 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2012

    Funny, heart warming

    I bought this book because of the reviews and the catchy title. I didn't know the author. However, after reading This Is How You Lose Her, I will look for more books by this author.

    In a nutshell, this is an autobiography of a Dominican immigrant. It is a rags to riches, dirt poor to Ivy League professor story. Diaz tells you every sad, embarrassing detail which endears him to the reader. You follow him from elementary age immigration to the loss of his older brother - a strong influencing character - to leukemia during high school. Early disconnect from both his father, who left the family for another woman, and his brother hint at rationale for Diaz's emotional distance in future relationships. We watch him struggle to become a responsible man with no positive role models and discover quite the womanizer. The title of the book should tell you all you need to know about the results of his behaviors. He loses, over the course of his adult life several women he truly respected, possibly loved, and is left to ponder his own behavior.

    10 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    S

    Was not worth free sampe one page doesnt tell you anything

    10 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Junot Diaz never ceases to wow me. Seeing more of Yunior in this

    Junot Diaz never ceases to wow me. Seeing more of Yunior in this book and Rafa. A must read.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2012

    Captivating story of how to screw up love.

    This is a story of how you can lose everything by being completely insensitive and impulsive. How you can lose everything you think you love because you don't really know what you love. Wonderfully absorbing.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    Why the praise

    This is a small book that really is no better than much of the erotic fiction that can be obtained for free or close to that if you own an e reader

    6 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2012

    awful

    complete waste of money

    6 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Interesting read

    I was initially put off by the narcissistic, womanizing protagonist, but soon the interconnecting stories became more intriguing and the reader comes to understand why Yunior acts the way he does. Diaz deserves his many accolades.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    sigh

    I had high expectations! They were never met- DISAPPOINTED

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2012

    Although for an English audience this may be a little challengin

    Although for an English audience this may be a little challenging because of the use of Dominican slang the overall concept is there. This book does not necessarily have your average plot of a developing story but rather a string of little novels that explain how Yunior was able to lose every female companion. Agreed it is probably not as adhesive as we are used to because there is not defined beginning, middle and end but that is what gives this book its character. Yes the book could come of as racist, but you have to see it from the point of view of the character and not the author. He came from another country and being raised by a father who was nothing less than ignorant then yes those views will most definitely embody the person Yunior turns out to be. But the gritty parts of the book: the romance or maybe lack thereof and the sex because there was no love making, were nothing but excellent depictions of what a lot of people frequently experience. Junot did an excellent job of letting us into this character's world and slowly revealing to us why Yunior turned out the way he did.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2012

    Waste of money. I kept reading thinking that the story would imp

    Waste of money. I kept reading thinking that the story would improve, it did not. 

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2012

    Great read!

    I wish this book was longer! Junot Diaz once again intrigues the reader through various tales of lost loves in this quick read. It's raw, relatable, and impossible to put down.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Didn't like at all.

    I would never have finished this book if I hadn't bought it. I didn't like the characters and found it really hard to follow. If you don't know Spanish, you are in trouble as there will be a lot you can't read!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    LOVE THIS BOOK! I have read the book "Drown" in my eng

    LOVE THIS BOOK! I have read the book "Drown" in my english class and liked it so much that I ordered this one. I found this to be even better. Im shocked that some people have given it one star. I guess people get upset by the bad language and such but the shock factor is one of the things that make it so great! Now I am waiting for "The brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" to come in the mail!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2012

    Amazing

    What a verbal artist

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2012

    Yuck

    Didn't like any one bit of this book. Turned off by the vulgarity, didn't like any of the characters (most especially Yunior), and got lost by the frequent sprinkling of Spanish phrases. I only finished it because it's my current book group selection.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012

    Too short but great while it lasted

    2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    What was I Thinking?

    Taking book suggestions from The Today Show, they're barely hanging in there; so's this book. I read his first book, which was much better. This drags and torments you, slowly. I kept waiting for the brilliance to begin, it never did. What waste of time and money.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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