Title: The Lover's Dictionary
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Genre: Fiction, Experimental Structure
Where I got it:Public Library
I haven't read much of David Levithan's young adult work, except for Will Grayson Will Grayson, which I adored. I was immediately intrigued by his adult novel, The Lover's Dictionary, because of its unusual structure. The book is written in dictionary entries that track the course of a relationship, perhaps to its "zenith," the final entry (that's not really a spoiler, see the perhaps).
The relationship that Levithan chronicles is not perfect, but it is real. It is romantic in moments and honest. The author's relationship with language, his tumultuous love with the writing is chronicled as well. In fact, my favorite passages in the book are the entries about language. For instance:
Maybe language is kind, giving us these double meanings. Maybe it's trying to teach us a lesson, that we can always be two things at once.or
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 are, there will never be enough.
As you can tell, the book's attitude toward love is bittersweet. The prose is charming and often funny. We never learn much about the couple in any traditional sense: their jobs, their appearance, even the gender of the beloved (although we do know that the narrator is male). What we do learn is that their relationship is sometimes perfect, sometimes not, sometimes humorous, and sometimes irritating, exciting and banal. The book is written in the second person, "you," and so the object of the narrator's love could be anyone, man or woman, an every-relationship. I drank the book down mostly in one sitting, like a hot drink that comforts, but only after it slightly burns your tongue.
The natural state. Our moods change. Our lives change. Our feelings for each other change. Our bearings change. The song changes. The air changes. The temperature of the shower changes.
Accept this. We must accept this.