I thought virtues encouraged each other. Like, if someone were kind, then he’d also be generous and respectful and dilligent. I know I was wrong.
This is How to Lose Her is a collection of short stories, whose narrator, Yunior, makes mistakes. He has been making the same mistake ever since he learned how to put on a condom.
So if you’ve read those stories, you know Yunior’s telling the truth. Like he says to one of his soon-to-be-ex girlfriends, he’s not a bad guy. He’s an intelligent guy. A disciplined reader and aspiring writer.
Yunior has a problem. He cannot stop sleeping with just about anything that moves. He’s like a magnet and women are ironclad. Of all the women canvassed in the book, he turned down only one.
But then it only took one to break him. One woman who “will simply sit up in bed and say, No more and, Ya.”
The most emblematic story in the collection is the aptly named The Cheater’s Guide to Love – the chronicle of Yunior’s depression, modest recovery, relapse and subsequent mediocre life after that mujerón (tough woman) strips him of his duplicity, exposes him to everyone they knew, and then broke up with him.
Díaz told an interviewer “I dress Yunior in my clothes.” I wonder whether Yunior wears his scars and his shame. I don’t like to know about the artist’s personal life. I don’t like speculation about their affairs, whether they did or did not inhale. I don’t want a tabloid high off of their personal trials. But.—
Hemingway said that if you know what you’re writing about and you write truthfully then when you tell you can sink some details and the story will still float. It’s like a drawing. You don’t draw everything but the viewer sees everything that’s essential about the object.
Something’s missing in this story.
What’s missing for me is choice. Sometimes you do a bad thing and then you go and do something even stupidier because something inside says “maybe if this is bigger, it will make the first idiotic move seem miniscule.” That’s a choice.
I thought about this when I saw Young Adult. Charlize Theron plays this amazing self-destructive juvenile 30-year-old who drinks too often and always too much. Every choice she makes is consistent in its absolute idiocy. She walked into a rest-stop on her way to building a life and she never left. That’s what some mistakes are. Some mistakes are just an abdication of choice. Which, is still a choice.
So, this is a book about cheating. This is a book about choice. The minute I accepted Yunior’s choices, I let go. I suspect that mujerón felt the same way. It’s like a warning to young would-be romancers. It’s kind of a PSA about love. And cheating. And after you think about it, choice.