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179 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Junot
Anyone familiar with either of Junot Díaz's previous books will remember Yunior, the Dominican kid coming of age in Drown who goes on to become the narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Back for his third starring role Díaz's work, Yunior is the link connecting most of the stories in This Is How You Lose Her. People who read Oscar Wao got a...
Published on September 11, 2012 by Feminist Texican Reads

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dios mio, Yunior.
Don't understand all the hype on this book. It was well written and easy to read...however, I was hoping to get insight into Yunior's horrendous treatment of women (and infidelity in general), but it just didn't click for me. I understand the notion that we repeat the mistakes of our parents, but it feels more like a long-winded excuse that even Yunior doesn't quite...
Published on December 1, 2012 by libramingo


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179 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Junot, September 11, 2012
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This review is from: This Is How You Lose Her (Hardcover)
Anyone familiar with either of Junot Díaz's previous books will remember Yunior, the Dominican kid coming of age in Drown who goes on to become the narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Back for his third starring role Díaz's work, Yunior is the link connecting most of the stories in This Is How You Lose Her. People who read Oscar Wao got a chance to see how compulsively self-destructive Yunior was in his relationships with women. In This Is How You Lose Her, Yunior's doomed relationships take center stage, as does the tenuous relationship he has with his older brother, Rafa.

It's always an encouraging sign when someone you admire begins something by quoting someone else you very much admire. In this case, the book's epigraph is from the Sandra Cisneros poem, "One Last Poem for Richard." But even better, This Is How You Lose Her opens with one of my favorite short stories, "The Sun, The Moon, The Stars," which was originally published in The New Yorker in 1999. It was written well before readers got to know Yunior in Oscar Wao, but in the story we can already see the effects of his lying and cheating as he tries in vain to earn back his girlfriend's trust.

I had already read a few of the stories in this collection, but reading them all at once and seeing how they fit together was a wholly different experience. One of the most striking things about it was getting to see the way that Yunior's views and his interactions with women were shaped by (and, at times, in response to) his older brother's womanizing ways. In Drown, we got to see a little bit of what Yunior was exposed to as a child; he bore witness to his father's philandering. With his father largely out of the picture in This Is How You Lose Her, it is now Rafa who sets the example for Yunior. While Yunior will never become the abusive person his brother is -- he's often shocked by the cruel ways Rafa treats his girlfriends -- his life experiences, personal traumas, and cultural pressures all have an impact on the way he will eventually begin to treat women.

Then there's the added layer of a cancer story: Rafa fights a losing battle with cancer during some of Yunior's most formative years, but instead of bringing the brothers closer, Rafa shuts everyone out; the loss is something that Yunior reflects on as he gets older. However, the book's cancer story -- and I use "story" here collectively, as Rafa's illness is subtly weaved into several of the stories -- is unlike any other cancer story I've ever read. As with many other difficult topics Díaz has written about, Rafa's battle provides both life-changing and flat-out hilarious moments. There are elements of levity in Rafa's story that I just can't see being told by anyone other than Díaz.

The story's true allure comes from its multiple layers, subtly pulling from both Drown and Oscar Wao in ways that made me want to immediately go back and reread all three of Díaz's books in a row. That last story, "The Cheater's Guide to Love," shows Yunior years down the road. Rocked hard after being (rightfully) dumped by his fiancee, he is finally learning the error of his womanizing ways. The pain of this heartbreak is brutal and sends him spiraling into depression, but it is this emotional rock-bottom that might finally offer Yunior a way out of the hole he's dug himself into.

Since most of the stories feature Yunior, the narrative as a whole is very male-centric. Only one of the stories, "Otravida, Ortravez," features a female point of view; this is also the only story that is not tied in with the others. Still, to dismiss Yunior's crassness and boneheaded machismo would also dismiss the very human portrait that Díaz has created. More importantly, it would dismiss the nuanced portrayal of the outside factors -- culture, sexism, marginalization -- that feed into Yunior's many faults. Ultimately, the book shows that Yunior's way just isn't going to work. It's not sustainable.

Finally, a note on language. Because I saw so much nonsense regarding the Spanglish in Oscar Wao and have already begun seeing nonsense regarding the Spanglish in This Is How You Lose Her, I want to end not with a quote from the book, but with a quote from Gloria Anzaldúa's "Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza":

"So, if you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity -- I am my language...Until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without always having to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate."

Remember that, because Díaz's playfulness with language is not only legitimate, it's vivid and marvelous. And it's pure Junot.
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127 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, It's Fabulous!, September 11, 2012
This review is from: This Is How You Lose Her (Hardcover)
I once saw Junot read at the Enoch Pratt library in Baltimore. He has a dynamic presence and is a fearless reader. He was able to calm and fully captivate a room full of twitchy, cafeteria-smelling high school students and grumpy senior citizens. It was hard to look away from Junot at the podium, but indeed, I had to watch the slightly-Amish-looking woman who was signing the story for the hearing impaired. I couldn't help but wonder how one actually signs such fresh sentences as, "You, Yunior, have a girlfriend named Alma, who has a long tender horse neck and a big Dominican ass that could drag the moon out of orbit. An ass she never liked until she met you. Ain't a day that passes that you don't want to press your face against that ass or bite the delicate sliding tendons of her neck. You love how she shivers when you bite, how she fights you with those arms that are so skinny they belong on an after-school special."

After reading THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER, I wanted to close down my facebook page, shut off Twitter, leave the oily, grimy dishes in the sink, let the wet laundry sit in the washing machine (and ignore the fact that the clothes end up smelling like a dank, rotting basement), and just write like mad with the hope that I could push out one single sentence as great as every sentence in this book.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dios mio, Yunior., December 1, 2012
This review is from: This Is How You Lose Her (Hardcover)
Don't understand all the hype on this book. It was well written and easy to read...however, I was hoping to get insight into Yunior's horrendous treatment of women (and infidelity in general), but it just didn't click for me. I understand the notion that we repeat the mistakes of our parents, but it feels more like a long-winded excuse that even Yunior doesn't quite believe. For Rafa, I can buy that, as he's kind of obtuse. But we're led to believe that Yunior has some self-reflective qualities and a notion of what's right and wrong. He occasionally seemed quite sensitive, particularly when bad things were directed at him (like prejudice, poverty, slights of pretty girls who liked his brother, etc.). But I never quite understood the cheating still (and sort of wondered who'd want to with him?). I feel like there's something missing -- even the book itself feels cowardly. Also, the ending where he's pining away doesn't ring true given his history. The strongest feeling I had was -- I'm SO glad the girl got away. While we hear lots about Yunior's suffering, what isn't brought to light is what his fiancee had to go through. It's very hard to trust after a trauma like that. May she find a man who doesn't betray her. And may all the Yuniors in the world grow the bleep up. I'm just saying.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Consider Her Lost, December 18, 2012
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This review is from: This Is How You Lose Her (Hardcover)
Junot Díaz's This Is How You Lose Her, a nine-story collection, is the author's follow-up to his 2008 Pulitzer-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Seven of the stories were first published in The New Yorker between February 1998 and July 2012, one in Glimmer Train in 1998, and another in Story in 1999.

Reading these stories in the order in which they are presented here, one after the other, will be a greatly different experience than that had by those who read them over the fourteen-year period during which they first appeared in print. This Is How You Lose Her, in fact, reads more like a novel than it does a short story collection. This is because all of the stories, although they flip back and forth between segments of his life, feature the same central character already familiar to readers of Díaz's two previous books. Yunior, a young Dominican, along with his mother and older brother, came to the United States when he was just a boy, and these stories, in addition to telling how Yunior got here, detail what happened to him once he did.

Be forewarned that these stories, insightful as they often are, are written in a raw, sometimes outrageous, style. Díaz writes in a Hispanic street vernacular that sees him often mixing Spanish words into his sentences. And, even though entire sentences are sometimes presented in Spanish, Díaz leaves it up to non-Spanish speaking readers to figure out what he is saying based on the context of the rest of the paragraph. But that is the least of it.

Yunior is a womanizer, and he comes by it naturally. His father, although not a constant in Yunior's life, set the pattern for that lifestyle early on, leaving Yunior to learn all the moves by watching his older brother in action. His is the kind of macho culture in which women are primarily objects to be sexually exploited, and Yunior describes in explicit terms what he gets from the women who briefly pass through his life.

Some might find Yunior's language offensive, but it is exactly this style and language that make Díaz's stories as powerful and effective as they are. However, one does begin to wonder how long such a distinctive style can be mined before it goes stale for the reader. Even though this is my first experience with Junot Díaz's work, I already wonder how much more of it I can read before the style becomes tiresome. Díaz is definitely on my radar now, but I am more likely to wait for something new from him written in a different voice than I am to seek out either of his two earlier books.

This Is How You Lose Her is a book about heartbreak - and the very macho central character, surprisingly enough, suffers much of it himself.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant collection of short stories, July 31, 2013
This review is from: This Is How You Lose Her (Hardcover)
As a Dominican-American woman who was born and raised in Boston, now based in Cambridge (Hrvd Sq), 'This is How You Lose Her' is a picture perfect depiction of Dominican men and woman (to an extent) in this country. The culture that surrounds the lifestyles of Yunior and all of the women he encounters and surrounds himself with tell more about the Dominican culture than anyone or anything can describe in words. From Diaz's descriptions of white girls, to his depictions of Yunior's headstrong/reserved mother and her 'Hallelujah crew', could not have been described more perfectly. The diction in this novel is also carefully chosen to perfection and I found myself laughing-out-loud at many of the phrases and references made towards the culture. From the character POV to the chapter layout, all was well done. The raunchy love stories between each individual woman portrays the beauty and tragedy that embody all that it means to be a Dominican-American living on the East coast. In my opinion, many of the readers do not know enough about the Dominican culture in order to grasp the full realm of what Diaz was aiming to convey here. Outstanding read! Extremely recommended to all with an open mind and an interest in dipping into the culture and lifestyle of this ethnicity :) - See more at: [...]
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Simply Great Writing, September 12, 2012
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Mark Wilson (Dallas, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: This Is How You Lose Her (Hardcover)
You've probably read books where you must occasionally stop and say "Wow, where did he come up with that turn of phrase?"

This is one of those books. Like "Drown" and "Oscar Wao," "This is How You Lose Her" is magical, kinetic, life-affirming, sad, riotous and nostalgic, sometimes all within the same story. But most of all, it's the writing - the kind you can savor and simply wonder "where he came up with that" time and again. I read the entire book in an evening, and plan to re-read it immediately. In sum, if you've read other works by Junot Diaz, you know what to expect.

I have heard some critics blast the book for its raunchiness. Well, so be it. It's no more raunchy than, say, "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love" or some of Philip Roth's novels. I did not find it bothersome in the least.

So, if you enjoy the thrill of language, or if you simply enjoy reading well-crafted and interesting stories, do give this a try. I hope you enjoy it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The half-life of love is forever, July 24, 2013
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This review is from: This Is How You Lose Her (Hardcover)
"The half-life of love is forever".

This is a line from the book which sums it up perfectly. This web of interconnected short stories lays bare the angst, torment and inescapability of a love lost. Anyone who has ever pined for someone or looked back and desperately wished a relationship had turned out differently will recognize these emotions - and the feeling of a backhoe trenching up your stomach and heart. It is not a good feeling. I think this compact book captures that brutal emotion with full force.

The book is written in a quasi Dominican slang with lots of Spanish mixed in - most of it sexual in nature. The book is quite crude sexually and the treatment of women in the book is pretty consistently offensive. In that regard, maybe the writing could have been better. I also found it weird to have Spanish slang and "pulchritude" in the same paragraph - which is it?

Overall - I would say read this book....you can finish it in 2 hours and my guess is it will be on your mind for much longer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind The Machismo Mask, September 16, 2012
This review is from: This Is How You Lose Her (Hardcover)
This is how you write it - you take a scintillatingly talented writer, you focus in on a Lothario who is unmoored from any healthy attachments, and then you write an achingly beautiful book that knocks the socks off the reader with its astuteness and authenticity.

In this interwoven collection of short stories, the immensely gifted Junot Diaz revisits Yunior, the narrator of his previous short story book, Drown. Right from the start, he grabs the reader's attention: "I'm not a bad guy. I know how that sounds - defensive, unscrupulous - but it's true. I'm like everyone else - weak, full of mistakes, but basically good."

By the end of the book, the reader is inclined to agree. Yunior is pitiful but never deigns to be self-pitying. He is highly sexually charged but impotent in emotional consistency. He is incredibly self-aware yet at the end of the day, always falls victim to his "lying cheater's heart."

Take this passage, when Yunior's girlfriend reads his journal and finds visible proof of his cheating: "Instead of lowering your head and copping to it like a man, you pick up the journal as one might hold a baby's beshatted diaper, as one might pinch a recently benutted condom. You glance at the offending passages. Then you look at her and smile a smile your dissembling face will remember until he day you die. Baby, you say, baby, this is part of my novel. This is how you lose her.

Junot Diaz writes like a dream, adeptly mixing the testosterone-charged prose with poetic insights. His emotionally abusive father and cancer-stricken older brother - both role models in the most negative of ways - are presented as background. At the end of the day, this is a book about love: not how to maintain it but how to soldier on when love cannot be claimed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Women go for Three Stars, I would Be Surprised, October 21, 2013
By 
Junot Diaz is becoming one of my favorite authors. But, this book was not for me.

After the home run novel - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao [to which he won a Pulitzer and more] - it should be understood that his next novel would not be as good. That is life. Even Hank Aaron rarely hit one out after his first homer hit in a game.

And, the personality/main character of this book is something of a Dominican Woody Allen. Maybe not as twitchy. Maybe not as nerdy. But, Portnoyed-sex driven with questionable taste for others' feelings make this latino's perspective of women as brazen as beat generation Jack Kerouac. And, that is neither an honor nor a small feat.

One passage in the book almost says it all. "Both your father and your brother were sucios. S#$@t, your father used to take you on his pussy runs, have you in the car while he ran up into the cribs to bone his girlfriends. Your brother was no better, boning girls in the bed next to yours. Sucios of the worst kind and now it's official: you are one, too. You had hoped the gene missed you, skipped a generation, but clearly you were kidding yourself." After more than 200 pages about this young man's conquests interests you - buy the book. Otherwise, you may want to pass.

Interestingly, my last review was too filled with prednisone for this reader. This is probably too testosterone for most female readers.

Like the television show "Oz" or the movie "The Big Lebowski", you will have trouble finding flocks of women wanting to read about a kid jumping from abusive relationship to abusive relationship with women.

The man can write. And his collage of English with Spanish slang makes his style something new, which will soon become normal as the languages converge with population infusion.

If you finish the book and love it. Great. If you finish the book and wonder WTF? I warned you.
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30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't read, February 14, 2013
I'm sure with all the great reviews here this one will get buried, but it's strange how many people refer to his "unique" language. As someone who speaks Spanish and went to a school that was nearly half hispanic, I still found this book to be overdone. Too much cussing, too much slang, too many writing gimmicks to let me get into it.
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This Is How You Lose Her
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz (Hardcover - September 11, 2012)
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