23 January 2012

The Lover's Dictionary

Boy meets girl.  They fall in love.  They move in together.  Things happen.  Fiction is filthy with novels with this basic theme.  The trick is, how does an author make his or her work stand out from the others?

Make a dictionary out of it.

The Lover's Dictionary by David LevithanDavid Levithan created The Lover's Dictionary to tell the story of the relationship between an unnamed man and woman.  Words are defined with moments from the couple's relationship and arranged in alphabetical order.  This makes the story of the relationship move backward and forward but Levithan left a few tiny forward-moving clues within the alphabetical entries.  Certain entries build slowly to create the picture of a scene within the other definitions and meanings of words or phrases.

The dictionary entries remind of the photo challenges people do where they take a theme for the day (black, silence, movement, etc.) and put their own interpretation on the idea.  Like this entry:
breathtaking, adj.
Those mornings when we kiss and surrender for an hour before we say a single word. (p 40)

See? There are so many wonderful entries in this book.  I scribbled many into my ratty little quote journal. 

(Poor little quote journal.)

Some of the best entries are arduous, blemish, breach, breathtaking, celibacy, corrode, deciduous, elegy, ephemeral, epilogue, fallible, fraught, hiatus, indelible, justice, kerfluffle, livid, love, macabre, peregrinations, placid, recant, rifle, sacrosanct, traverse, and yearning.

My favorites are livid (a gut-punch, seriously) and sacrosanct (absolutely beautiful).

When you finish reading the book, from A to Z, go back and read the entry for "epilogue" - what do you think it means?  What do you think he's writing?

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