Staying up past twelve means racing with the clock and the cloaking darkness of the night-time. If careless with self-maintenance, I turn into a murky heap as my mood crumbles with every hour. I am heliotropic, thirsting for the absence of the sun even minutes after it has set.
The imperative desire to seek inspiration, that muse embedded in the fictional folds of stories, that strong voice resonating with reason, has been especially urgent after graduating. With no more assigned readings handpicked by zany professors, the lack of things to do has left me lost, dazed, sheepish. Grazing for any chances at validating my existence has been made more possible what with the sudden surplus of free time to question what is wrong and what is right in the world. The ambiguous future has never chosen to tease me around as often as it does now when it seems to linger at every forefront.
So the last great read I had was This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, a copy which I picked up at the airport in San Francisco just before my flight to Hong Kong. I’d been eyeballing it a few months prior and so finally decided to act on impulse and purchase it because I’d only heard rave feedback regarding Diaz’s writing and was curious to give him a try. Plus, I had some extra dollars I wanted to use.
The thing is… my god. What a stunning read. Uncouth at times, intense, dizzy, achy with the threatening promise of just how it can, and will, bulldoze you over by its reminders of the pains of being human. Although not especially lengthy, the pacing of the book is sufficient to not finish in a single sitting due to the (at times overwhelming) amount of sadness and beauty encased.
And yes, maybe the topic of love and loss is overused and we could be better off by refraining from indulging in literary goods we know are bound to tear us apart. Because the reality is that all types of love are difficult to maintain and restrain. It’s easy to give it up more so than to peruse the calluses and try, we all know that. Endless amounts of songs and books and stories have reminded us of this fact, yet I say don’t give this book a pass anyway, even if you think you have heard it all one too many times. Don’t give it a pass, on the sole basis that this book contains many gems and does have a striking difference in what it has to offer. By tackling familiar terrain, Diaz manages to magnify other issues that revolve around the disintegration of relationships; the very real self-destructive nature of human beings when confronted by all love (not just romantic, but familial, platonic, lust, etc), the need of filling up voids built by self-made human ideologies yet balancing that with our insecurities, treating the ones we love the most with utter disrespect because we can, and more especially, the effects of family in shaping how we ultimately love the people that map out our lives.
The gems in this book are ones you can only dream and hope of finding when you bridge open the prospect of a new book and break its spine in earnest hunger of consuming something life-changing. I recognize a favorite when I know that I will return to it again and again in the future, and I can foresee this easily happening with This is How You Lose Her.
Some of my favorite lines:
- “The half-life of love is forever.”
- “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.”
- “And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end.”
- “You try every trick in the book to keep her. You write her letters. You quote Neruda. You cancel your Facebook. You give her the passwords to all your e-mail accounts. Because you know in your lying cheater’s heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get.”