Like Edith Wharton, Junot Diaz is clearly working through some powerful personal issues. Almost every single one of these stories is about regret for infidelity, and is full of a kind of steaming pain, while also being strangely hilarious.
Here, for example, is a brilliantly funny line that I've been thinking of often: "Show me a beautiful girl and I'll show you someone who is tired of fucking her." Or he is here on his mother: "My mom wasn't the effusive type anyway, had one of those event-horizon personalities - shit just fell into her and you never really knew how she felt about it."
Regular readers of this blog may recall my great love for Diaz's last book THE BRIEF AND WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO, which gave me an entirely new understanding of the possibilities of writing for us confused people of the diaspora. I did not enjoy THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER as much as OSCAR WAO - perhaps because I am not fond of short stories - but I still enjoyed his immensely contemporary voice. Here he is for example, on his mother's friends, who encouraged her to hate his brother's girlfriend: "They could have moderated things a little, don't you think, but they were, like, Fuck that, what are friendships for if not for instigating?" I just love the punctuation around like, I love the sentiment, I love the don't you think.
That said, I did start to find the obsessive concern with infidelity a bit dull after a while, especially in the last story, which is all about a professor in Boston (very like Diaz) who is busy being miserable about fucking around on his girlfriend. I know it's charitable, but I started to feel like: dude, get a grip; and my love of his literature wobbled a little.