Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Lover's Dictionary

My friend Kelly Fineman recommended this book to me first, and then I heard good things about it from a few other sources. Now that I've finally read it, I can officially say, Good call, Kelly.

The Lover's Dictionary, by David Levithan, is a novel written in the form of dictionary entries. The dictionary entries are like little prose poems or pieces of connected flash fiction, all of which relate to the main characters' love story. They capture the full sweep of a romantic relationship, from the good:

"It was welcome, so welcome, and in my rush to say that I loved you, too, I left the television on, I let that light bathe us for a little longer, as I returned to the couch, to you. We held there for awhile, not really sure what would happen next."

to the bad:

"I would be standing right there, and you would walk out of the bathroom without putting the cap back on the toothpaste."

to the really ugly:

"It was the way you said, 'I have something to tell you.' I could feel the magic drain from the room."

I love the way the entries cover the full spectrum of a relationship's big and small moments: the giddiness of new love; the uncertainty of wondering whether it will last; the awkwardness of meeting each other's families; the quiet times throughout a relationship when love renews itself; the picky little idiosyncrasies through which lovers annoy each other; the joy of sharing inside jokes; the devastating times when the whole relationship is at risk of collapsing.

For writers, it's also a good example of an unusual format, and an effective use of second person.


  1. Thanks for the rec. Looks like something I'd enjoy. I'll go add it to my list ^_^

  2. Thanks for highlighting this on your blog. I look forward to learning more about the effectivity of the format.

    1. It worked so well. All these little snippets adding up to a relationship--very much like the way we think about our relationships, each memory a different facet of it.

  3. Sounds cool! The cover is pretty neat, too.

  4. I have never heard of this, but it sounds right up my alley. I'm adding it to my list. :)