If you think of the great love stories—Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Gatsby—none of them end with the boy and girl kissing and riding off into the sunset. They all share a fundamental impossibility. It can never be, but wasn’t it grand to experience? Because the one thing about intense romantic love is, good or bad, you feel very, very alive.
--Baz Luhrmann, WSJ Magazine February 2014 columnist, on love.
You try every trick in the book to keep her. You write her letters. You drive her to work. You quote Neruda. You compose a mass e-mail disowning all your sucias. You block their e-mails. You change your phone number. You stop drinking. You stop smoking. You claim you’re a sex addict and start attending meetings. You blame your father. You blame your mother. You blame the patriarchy. You blame Santo Domingo. You find a therapist. You cancel your Facebook. You give her the passwords to all your e-mail accounts. You start taking salsa classes like you always swore you would so that the two of you could dance together. You claim that you were sick, you claim that you were weak—It was the book! It was the pressure!—and every hour like clockwork you say that you’re so so sorry. You try it all, but one day she will simply sit up in bed and say, No more, and, Ya, and you will have to move from the Harlem apartment that you two have shared. You consider not going. You consider a squat protest. In fact, you say won’t go. But in the end you do.
--Junot Díaz, This is How You Lose Her
I have a tendency to Google and read reviews in advance of settling down with a book recommendation. And after much buzz about Junot Díaz’s This is How You Lose Her, I tracked down a copy at the library and started reading immediately…and couldn’t put it down. I flipped cover-to-cover in three days, prolonged only by intermittent studying. And while I was nervous that the “condescending machismo" of the main character would leave a bitter aftertaste, I ended up warming up to Yunior. You know how at the beginning of 500 Days of Summer, the narrator says: “this is a story about love, but this is not a love story”? The same could be said for This is How You Lose Her. I wanted to simultaneously knead Yunior in the nuts and give him a hug. Most of all, I wanted Yunior (and by extension, Junot Díaz since this book was quasi-autobiographical) to have some sort of happy ending relationship that he was finally mature enough to keep sustainable. How it ends I won’t say (you’ll have to see for yourself), but I can tell you you won’t be disappointed.
Also, read Leah Hager Cohen’s review of TIHYLH in the New York Times, it is so beautifully written and on point.
Gardner believed in love. She had little faith in her ability as an actress or a star; at each casting, it was said that she always thought they had the wrong girl. She could love well, however, no matter how formidable the object of her affection. Yet as each of her men worked his way through her heart, he also wore her down a little bit, until like Lady Brett Ashley, Gardner learned to cover her old wounds and aching heart with a sort of brash independence that held men at bay. Love in the abstract or the past tense became her ideal.
--Cary Randolph Fuller, for RL Magazine's "A Heroine for Hemingway"
Time together isn’t ever quite enough.
When we’re apart whatever are you thinking of?
What will it take to make or break this hint of love?
So tell me darling do you wish we’d fall in love?
All the time.
--Owl City, “Saltwater Room”
"what do any of us really know about love?"
"…It seems to me we’re just beginners at love. We say we love each other and we do, I don’t doubt it. I love Terri and Terri loves me, and you guys love each other too. You know the kind of love I’m talking about now. Physical love, that impulse that drives you to someone special, as well as love of the other person’s being, his or her essence, as it were. Carnal love and, well, call it sentimental love, the day-to-day caring about the other person. But sometimes I have a hard time accounting for the fact that I must have loved my first wife too. But I did, I know I did. There was a time when I thought I loved my first wife more than life itself. But now I hate her guts. I do. How do you explain that? What happened to that love? I wish someone could tell me. Then there’s Ed. Okay, we’re back to Ed. He loves Terri so much he tries to kill her and he winds up killing herself.
You guys have been together eighteen months and you love each other. It shows all over you. You glow with it. But you both loved other people before you met each other. You’ve both been married before, just like us. And you probably loved other people before that too, even. And the terrible thing, the terrible thing is, but the good thing too, the saving grace, you might say, is that if something happened to one of us—excuse me for saying this—but if something happened to one of us tomorrow, I think the other one, the other person, would grieve for a while, you know, but then the surviving party would go out and love again, have someone else soon enough. All this, all of this love we’re talking about, it would just be a memory. Am I wrong? Am I way off base? Because I want you to set me straight if you think I’m wrong. I want to know. I mean, I don’t know anything, and I’m the first one to admit it.”
My problem, though, is that I take all of these glamorized images of love and I adopt them as my own standards for relationships. Yes, I realize that I have probably been setting myself up for failure for the past 10 years, but I guess my heart is too strong and my mind is too weak to provide any resistance. I want the football player to run off the field and spin me around in his arms. I want a guy to surprise me with a date that he planned all by himself. I want the guy who turns back around and decides he doesn’t want to leave just yet. I want to be serenaded in song or even just a few nice words on a card. Most people would probably say that I am just waiting for the perfect guy to walk up to my doorstep and that I can’t have these kinds of expectations, but I do know that in reality, they can be realized – just not frequently.
—Brooke Schneider for The Heights