Book #35 is Junot Díaz’s collection of short stories, This Is How You Lose Her. It’s an easy read (I knocked it out in two days flat) that seems to start as a collection of separate stories about sex, cheating, and breaking up, all centered around one character, Yunior. Just under halfway through, though, there’s a story about Yunior’s brother, Rafa, who eventually dies of cancer while they’re both teenagers. The rest of the stories take place either right after his family moves from Santo Domingo to the US or are about Yunior dealing with life after Rafa dies. The book should probably be called a novella about Yunior and his family instead of a short story collection.
Overall, the book is about isolation and loneliness told in a very spicy voice (lots of profanity in English and Spanish as well as lots of n-word usage). There are the requisite Beautiful Sentences™, but it’s Díaz’s conversational voice that really drives the stories and my interest. And, to be honest, if I hadn’t seen this guy at Hopkins a few months ago deliver an incredible talk, I probably would just stop at this book. It’s the thing I mentioned a few days ago, the “sensitive stories about loneliness and grieving over lost lovers and whatnot.” Moby Dick it ain’t. But because I know Díaz is the real deal, I’m probably going to read his other two books at some point. At some point. Gotta survive Alan Moore/Eddie Campbell’s From Hell first.