Thursday, December 20, 2012

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz (audio)


This is How You Lose Her
by Junot Díaz
narrated by the author
Penguin Audio, 2012
5 hours 14 minutes
source: review copy from publisher

Publisher's Summary:

Junot Díaz burst into the literary world with Drown, a collection of indelible stories that revealed a major new writer with the "eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet" (Newsweek). His eagerly awaited first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, arrived like a thunderclap, topping best-of-the-year lists and winning a host of major awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Now Díaz turns his prodigious talent to the haunting, impossible power of love.

The stories in This Is How You Lose Her, by turns hilarious and devastating, raucous and tender, lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weaknesses of our all-too-human hearts. They capture the heat of new passion, the recklessness with which we betray what we most treasure, and the torture we go through - "the begging, the crawling over glass, the crying" - to try to mend what we've broken beyond repair. They recall the echoes that intimacy leaves behind, even where we thought we did not care. They teach us the catechism of affections: that the faithlessness of the fathers is visited upon the children; that what we do unto our exes is inevitably done in turn unto us; and that loving thy neighbor as thyself is a commandment more safely honored on platonic than erotic terms. Most of all, these stories remind us that the habit of passion always triumphs over experience, and that "love, when it hits us for real, has a half-life of forever."

My semi-connected thoughts on these loosely connected stories:


  • Wow, I have never heard so many f-bombs in a single book before!
  • Maybe this isn't for me after all...
  • But the stories are so compelling.
  • And I love it when an author is also a good narrator. It means the reader experiences the book the way it is meant to sound.
  • I wonder how much of this is autobiographical.
  • These stories are so sad...
  • The juxtaposition of the crude and the academic is surprisingly effective.
  • This guy can really write! I need to get a copy of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Read or listen?
If you are at all inclined toward this book (and you really should be), listen - definitely. There is a great deal of power and emotion conveyed in the words, especially when spoken by an author who knows how they are supposed to sound.

My rating:




Bottom line:
Junot Díaz is clearly a huge talent. With lots of bad language and sexual references, these stories will not have universal appeal. However, if this relatively conservative 50-something reader warmed up to them, I suspect almost anyone can.

20 comments:

  1. Hmmm this actually sounds pretty good. I'll have to see if my library has audiobook.

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    Replies
    1. Trish - This has got to be the book the surprised me most this year - never would have picked it up on my own, and never though I would enjoy it this much!

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  2. I am familiar with Mr. Diaz, and have enjoyed his first novel. It took me a bit of time to warm up to the casual eroticism and slang expressions, but the story, the characters were fresh and incredibly real and fleshed out.

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    1. Rosaria - My reaction, exactly. It definitely took some time to warm up to this one, but now I want to read his novel. I downloaded the audio version, but may end up getting a print copy, too.

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  3. I started to listen to this one, and although I did listen to author's first book, this one seemed like more of a case of wrong book wrong time. I'll try again sometime -- agreed the language was a bit much, but glad you liked the stories.

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    1. Diane - I came very close to quitting, but am glad I stuck with this book. I have downloaded Oscar Wao and plan to listen soon... may even pick up a paperback copy, too.

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  4. Loved your stream of consciousness for this one. It was fun to see how your thoughts changed and evolved as you listened to this. You've made me think that maybe I shouldn't be too afraid of this author?????

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    Replies
    1. Staci - My feelings changed pretty dramatically as I was listening to this one. I'd avoided Diaz for a long time, but now I'll be reading more of his work.

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  5. It sounds very intense. I don't think you can write so much about love without many personal experiences. The F words would be a deal breaker for me -- especially for an audio. You did spark an interest in his first book tho. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Georgia Girls - I almost quit early on because it was just too much listening to all the f words (probably even more offensive on audio than in print), but I'm glad I stuck with it. Not sure if Oscar Wao is quite this raw...

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  6. This one definitely sounds like one I would rather listen to than read. It's been on my list for awhile. I'll have to get to my library this weekend and hope to find a copy of it on audio.

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    Replies
    1. Kathleen - Listening really added a lot for me, but I know other bloggers have thought it might be better in print. Either way, hope you get a chance to enjoy it!

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  7. You certainly enjoyed this more than I did. I think I'm too old and uptight for it.

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    1. Kathy - I'm really surprised how this grew on me... we're probably about the same vintage;-)

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  8. I have the audio sitting on my mp3 player. I need to get to it soon!

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  9. I love Diaz's writing, so I'm happy to see you enjoyed this. If you listen to Oscar Wao on audio, try the U.K. version which is narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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    Replies
    1. Vasilly - Thanks for the tip. I'm not sure which version I have downloaded... will go check now.

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  10. I've been on the fence on this one. I have print, I have audio and I haven't picked it up. Maybe I'll have to make the time.

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    Replies
    1. Beth F - This one certainly isn't for everyone, and I'm surprised I enjoyed it... you might, too!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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