“This is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz (2012) - 213 pages
None of the stories in Junot Diaz’ new collection of stories is called “This is How You Lose Her”, so this title must be the theme for the book. Indeed several of the stories are about a young Domo (a Dominican Republic guy; a Dominican Republic gal is called a Dominica) who loses his girlfriend for some reason.
The magnificent first story, “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars”, has precisely this theme. Our young guy, a ‘sucio’ (a womanizer) , cheats on his girlfriend Magdalena, and she finds out about it after. They stay together, but somehow everything has changed. A door has closed, and there is no way for him to open it again.
I spent some time looking for the quintessential Junot Diaz sentence, but found out his effect is cumulative, sentence building on sentence.
Here is a typical example.
“Mama tried to keep his ass home. Remember what the doctor said, hijo. But he just said, Ta to, Mom, ta to, and danced right out the door. She never could control him. With me she yelled and cursed and hit, but with him she sounded as if she was auditioning for a role in a Mexican novela.”
Many of the stories are about the two brothers, Yunior and Rafa, and their mother. As I recall many of the stories in Diaz’s first story collection, “Drown” were also about Yunior, Rafa, and their mother. Most of the stories take place in New Jersey or Massachusetts. Junot Diaz fully captures the colorful adventures of young Dominican-American guys and gals, and his books have already become a lasting part of our literary canon. Despite all these stories being fine, I do believe it is time for Diaz to move on to different stories. I felt the stories in “This is How You Lose Her” are quite similar to the stories in “Drown”, and the stories within this collection are quite similar to each other. Surely the stories could still be about the Dominican-American experience, just be about something different from the dating life.
I realize that releasing a book of stories is an American writer’s version of treading water, but I’ll be expecting something new and different in the next novel by Junot Diaz. .