Michael's Reviews > The Lover's Dictionary

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
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Jan 23, 2011

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bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read on May 19, 2011

File this one under Impossible to Dislike.

I heard about the book when Michael Silverblatt hosted the author on his Bookworm radio show and went apeshit over it.* Silverblatt was marveling over the un-chronological nature of the entries, but I'm not sure it could have been written any other way. In fact, if you've seen (500) Days of Summer, this is kind of a variation of that; I could easily see Joseph Gordon-Levitt narrating this. The gimmick (and I don't use the word pejoratively) only works if the narrative is as broken up as dictionary entries; a dictionary, after all, is not designed to be read front-to-back.

It's very clever, if sometimes a bit twee, and the identification factor will be high for anyone who's been in a relationship (the riff on online dating is especially spot-on). If I didn't fall for it the way Silverblatt and fellow Goodreaders did, maybe it's because I found the characters more sketched than fleshed out (though I understand that most of the story takes place in the blank space between the entries).

Something interesting I've noticed in the reviews I've read: Some reviewers decided that the narrator's lover was either male or female, when it seemed pretty obvious to me that Levithan very deliberately kept the gay/straight nature of the relationship up in the air. In fact, once you realize that Levithan won't commit to the narrator's sexual orientation, you begin to see the verbal gymnastics he went through to keep it that way.

And, by the way, go to KCRW's website and check out the Bookworm interview with Levithan. It's a good listen.

*As much as Silverblatt goes apeshit over anything, since he has, as familiar listeners know, an endearingly droll voice.
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Jayme let me know how this one is. i want to read it.


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