I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao sometime earlier this CBR, and I was not…exactly…wildly enthusiastic over it. I felt that Díaz was a really talented storyteller, but his characters were unsympathetic and deeply, deeply maddening. But I decided that maybe Díaz’s writing would overcome the kinds of characters he developed in his novel. I am disappointed to report that his collection of short stories suffers from the same kinds of problems as his novel.
This Is How You Lose Her is again narrated by Yunior. First. Mistake. Yunior is a bad man. He cheats on his girlfriends, he’s a bad friend, and he takes the cowardly way out time and again. No. So when he writes about his relationships and how they end (sometimes through faults of his and not), well, I’m not exactly invested. There are all sorts of stories about the nature of love and infidelity, both Yunior’s and a girlfriend’s. There are the ways in which breakups affect Yunior, and the influence of indifference in a relationship or sexual desire.
There are several turns-of-phrase that are eloquent and sincere, and these keep this book from a one-star rating. Some moments of brilliance make me wonder what Díaz could write without the shackles of the infuriating Yunior. And then they are replaced by another navel-gazing story in which I do.not.care.at.all. This leads to my new resolution: until Díaz gives up on Yunior, I am giving up on his work. I can’t read another word about Yunior, lest I burst into flames.