Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,   Last week I was at a magnificent production:  An Introduction to "The Nutcracker "at the Children's Library here in Sea Cliff . The music was beautiful  and the performances of the twenty children outstanding  and especially memorable with the debut of the young  Lara as Clara. Dan DiPietro returned in his classic role as the mysterious but kindly  Drosselmeyer,  and the Stroppels- Fred and Joe and Liz admirably served as the production crew.  Afterwards, some of the audience members began talking about  a collection of short stories  they were reading for a book club discussion. The author was Junot Diaz but I can't remember its title.  Do you know this book and if so would you recommend it?  Nutcracker Devotee

Dear Nutcracker Devotee,  How  I too loved this performance ! And yes, I have read Diaz's latest work: THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER.   Written from the perspective of Yunior, this is a  collection of love stories- and they are love stories- four of them  are named after  women who Yunior loved and eight of the nine stories tell how he lost their love. Yunior's life trajectory follows closely that of Diaz's himself- born in the Dominican Republic, brought to this country at an early age, he ultimately becomes a highly successful teacher and author.  But much comes in between and herein  lies the theme  of these stories- Yunior loses each of his loves through serial infidelities that he describes in a flippant, almost cruel manner, and each time he ends up sad, lonely, repentant  but  seemingly  having learned nothing . In the final story, the longest by far in the collection, there is a sense of enlightenment as he tells us "the half-life of love is forever."   Still one wonders what Yunior feels : is it loss,  is it love, or is it  loss of love ? His lack of empathy remains a chilling indictment of the man.  A disturbing book!

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