“How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s Lover’s Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.”
Intimate; adj., private and personal.
I really didn’t know what to make of The Lover’s Dictionary when I started reading it. We begin the story at an unspecified time between two people’s relationship. (Note: I say people because while the gender of the narrator is clear, that of his love interest isn’t.) And what follows is an interesting journey of trying to understand this relationship–aided by words that set the tone of each anecdote.
The narrative isn’t linear. It’s fluid; with the stories coming as they are remembered…as they are defined by the words that are themselves being defined by the story. And it is this format that creates the feeling of intimacy between the reader and the narrator.
He is baring his soul.
David Levithan has another experimental novel out there–Every You, Every Me–which played with the format: photos dictated where the story would go. And I wasn’t impressed. So I’m happy to say that The Lover’s Dictionary, although just as gimmicky, succeeds in having the format support the narrative–to push it into something more than just another story about love.
Because, to be perfectly honest, the story itself isn’t very original. It’s the format that takes the novel to a different level. It’s the format that makes The Lover’s Dictionary a must own.