I have yet to pick up any of Junot Dìaz's books, so this week on the train I packed This is How You Lose Her, his most recent collection of short stories.
Yunior is a young man who gets into all sorts of pickles with women. He is the through line of these stories. From his mishaps with the opposite sex to stories of his childhood, Yunior's life is presented in technicolor for all to see. He has cheated on his fiancé for six years and is devastated to lose her. He watches his brother waste away from cancer while losing his mother. He watches his father lose his mother. Yunior's repeats those same old patterns. He is, however, on all of these stories, simply himself.
I had a hard time getting into the first two stories. I wasn't thrilled with how the women were spoken about, and while yes, I understand that this is how the character thought of the women he dated, I was still not comfortable with the crude objectification of the physical aspects of these women that were clearly only focused on the sexual aspect of their relationship. In context, yes, it makes sense, but I'm not sold.
However, as we moved into the stories about Yunior's relationship with his family I became far more engrossed and bought into the writing. Dìaz's astonishing prose really shine in those moments of fragility in Yunior, when he spoke of his brother and the confusion that broke through the hard-hearted surface of Yunior's facade. This carried over into the story of his life after his fiancé -- he was flippant and lost her, and when he recovered years later from his broken heart, he was never the same. It was a beautiful treatise on self-exploration, as told through parallel tracks of Yunior and his best friend.
I'm now interested to pick up the rest of the Dìaz cannon to see what I think.