on January 21, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Also by this author: Every Day, The Lover's Dictionary, The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.
If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.
How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
‘I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.’
This was a delightfully unique story of a relationship’s major occurrences told by short entries in dictionary format. I gave major points for the originality of the entire concept of the story; I’ve never read anything like it before. The writing was beautiful and the story bittersweet and poignant.
‘It was the way you said, “I have something to tell you.” I could feel the magic drain from the room.’
The story was told from the point of view of the male in the relationship who remains unnamed throughout the entire story. It was also an extremely quick story and could easily be read in a single sitting but I ended up reading it bits and pieces at a time. I went into this story thinking that this would be a traditional story that followed a standard timeline; however, it seemed that the dictionary entries flip flopped around in time and you don’t end up getting the ‘bigger picture’ until the end when you can sit back and contemplate the entries. This was troublesome for me at first and I had a hard time understanding it, but by the end I was completely sold; the author’s execution of the story was brilliant.
‘These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there, there will never be enough.’