This is how you lose her

One thing that immediately springs to mind when I read Junot Diaz’s books is the electrifying use of idioms. The language is so fast-paced and enigmatic is that it almost seems to have crossed you while you were doodling on the previous page. “This Is How You Lose Her” is no different. There is a madness in his language and expressions that connect to a reader in the same way a real-life incident does. It jumps up at you while you are least expecting it and regales you with its larger-than-life incidents that somehow seem your own.

Junot Diaz often switches from first person narrative to talking to the reader directly and this he does with an alarming talent to show. He does not face any sort of problems when he talks to us, because he is confident in the fact of the experiences he tells us. We have all gone through what he writes, we have all experienced the humiliation of being dumped by girls and going through ecstasy when something clicks without having even the remotest of expectations. At least I have! His prose is a bit confusing to say the least. It moves ahead at such a break-neck speed that it might throw up unprecedented barriers for the inexperienced reader. But mark my words, the joy of moving past that and persevering with his craziness in his language and expression is immense.

In “This Is How You Lose Her”, Diaz brings back the loveable character of Yunior, who was a mainstay of his earlier work “Drown” and also the Pulitzer winning “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”. Yunior is what we all are, sometimes charmingly endearing and sometimes deserving of a kick in the shins when no one’s looking because he can be frustrating and something of a rascal at times. But a point to wonder here is whether the character of Yunior overlaps with that of Diaz.

In this collection of stories, we follow Yunior in his childhood years and move chronologically up as his age progresses. By the end of the book, Yunior is a full-blown author and college-professor who lives in Greater Boston. Reminds you of Diaz, doesn’t it? In the meantime, we also get an insight into Yunior’s decidedly troubled childhood and growing up years, something which Diaz describes with great ease.

A primary and recurrent theme in this book is male infidelity. Yunior ponders over his emerging lust in the wake of the acts done by his brother Rafa. He manages to wish that the rutting gene might have missed him and gone on its merry way but “clearly you were kidding yourself.” Diaz also focusses special emphasis on the aspect of betrayals coming to light through our own writing and language. He speaks through Yunior who berates himself for keeping a written record of all the despondency and cheating he has done. But why then, you might ask, would you keep written records? Maybe, because he has a gift of telling stories, maybe, he just wants to chronicle his conquests. Either way, this is a fresh and exhilarating look at infidelity and the mannerisms that lead to it. Or it is just that Diaz wants us to know the way of the human nature, that it is all divided and confused and perhaps reading out our prior experiences is the only way to make progress in life.