Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Title: The Lover's Dictionary 
Author: David Levithan 
Genre: Romance
Release date: February 2, 2012
Publisher: Fourth State
Format: Paperback
Pages: 215
Literary award: ALA Alex Award (2012)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read on May 19, 2012 
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it + Favorite
Summary: How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent, that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time. 


I'll admit that it's quite difficult for me to find the right words to say about David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary, but I'll try.

This book is a dictionary that the narrator writes about his current relationship. I'm still reluctant to call this book a novel, because to me it didn't really feel like one. It's very short and took me only about an hour or two to finish. Its format is like a dictionary with 185 headwords running from A to Z and definitions. The most interesting thing here is that these definitions are not straight forward definitions you see in English dictionaries, but short entries telling short stories that the narrator associate with the words. It reads like a personal diary.

Here's my favorite one:
dumbfounded, adj.
And still, for all the jealousy, all the doubt, sometimes I will be struck with a kind of awe that we’re together. That someone like me could find someone like you - it renders me wordless. Because surely words would conspire against such luck, would protest the unlikelihood of such a turn of events.
I didn't tell any of my friends about our first date. I waited until after the second, because I wanted to make sure it was real. I wouldn't believe it had happened until it had happened again. Then, later on, I would be overwhelmed by the evidence, by all the lines connecting you to me, and us to love. 
It's the kind of book that can make you feel all kinds of emotions. I think it's pretty amazing how David Levithan uses so few words but the feelings and images come out so distinct. Loved that! His writing is simply beautiful. Wait, let me try again, HIS WRITING IS MAGNIFICENT. The emotions and problems and events in this story feel so real and are described like they really are. It can go from happy-in-love to heartbreaking to bitter to frustrated and then to happy-in-love again. I loved that something as intangible as feelings can be described so accurately and beautifully. The storytelling isn't linear and sometimes two words 20 entries apart tell the same story but with additional information. So charming! 

Another one of my favorite: 
livid, adj.

Fuck You for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.
Wow. Isn't that just awesome? 

Never before have I read any book like this one. I wish the book was longer. I don't feel this way often. I felt like I couldn't get enough. It is romantic, clever, and funny, just like what Sunday Times says on the cover. This book is a unique work of art. Definitely a favorite. I'm sure I'm going to pick this book up again to reread. 
punctuate, v.
The key to a successful relationship isn't just in the words, it's in the choice of punctuation. When you're in love with someone, a well-placed question mark can be the difference between bliss and disaster, and a deeply respected period or a cleverly inserted ellipsis can prevent all kinds of exclamations.
This book = ♥!


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This review is also posted on Goodreads.

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