Review: This Is How You Lose Her


September 23, 2012 by markstani

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. 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. Didn’t tell Magda about it, either. You know how it is. A smelly bone like that, better off buried in the backyard of your life. Magda only found out because homegirl wrote her a fucking letter. And the letter had details. Shit you wouldn’t even tell your boys drunk.

Junot Diaz’s long-awaited follow-up to his 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao’ reprises the character of Yunior as a spectacularly unfaithful, middle-aged Dominican migrant.
Through nine fractured, arbitrarily ordered and loosely inter-linked short stories, Diaz tackles love, sex and loss in the same inimitable way that shot ‘.. Oscar Wao’ straight into the pantheon of great turn-of-century literary works.
Once again, Diaz forges head-on into a hotch-potch of intellectual observation, crass street-level colloquialisms and untranslated Latin American street-slang. The result is sharp, raw, unashamedly macho and undeniably unique.
This Is How You Lose Her (pub. Faber) may lack the black background of Diaz’s previous work, in which Yunior’s generation sought to hone normal young lives amid the daily terror of Trujillo’s despotic regime.
But here, the bleakness is provided by Rafa, Yunior’s elder brother, whose avowed resistance to submit to his creeping cancer serves only to rip his family further apart. Yunior’s world is one of exaggerated stereotypes: the brash, sex-obsessed Dominican male whom Yunior at once despises and has become; the slutty, foul-mouthed, fat-arsed girls they chase and inevitably conquer; and the elder, first generation migrants, who view their offsprings’ activities with meek disdain, and pine for picture-postcard versions of a homeland long lost.
The result is a keen, sharp insight into the ordinary yet exceptional lives of a migrant community, as well as a moving personal account of ageing and loss of innocence. It confirms Diaz as the master of this self-made brand of schizo-lit: it will have its imitators, but surely none will prove as compellingly readable as this.


2 thoughts on “Review: This Is How You Lose Her

  1. still a writer I've yet to read, although featuring on my shelf.

  2. Mark says:

    Oh, you should! I recommend starting with Oscar Wao. Magnificent.

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