This short story from Dominican-American Junot Díaz is a look at good old-fashioned lovely love. And the bad side of it. Namely, if your bastard SOB significant other cheats on you.
And that’s what this little work explores, which is actually the final tale from a selection of works in This Is How You Lose Her (2012).
The Cheater’s Guide to Love
The book opens with a pretty clear message on what’s going on.
"Your girl catches you cheating. (Well, actually she’s your fiancée, but hey, in a bit it so won’t matter.) She could have caught you with one sucia, she could have caught you with two, but because you’re a totally batshit cuero who never empties his e-mail trash can, she caught you with fifty! Sure, over a six-year period, but still. Fifty fucking girls? God damn! Maybe if you’d been engaged to a super-open-minded blanquita you could have survived it—but you’re not engaged to a super-open-minded blanquita. Your girl is a bad-ass salcedense who doesn’t believe in open anything; in fact, the one thing she warned you about, that she swore she would never forgive, was cheating. I’ll put a machete in you, she promised. And, of course, you swore you wouldn’t do it. You swore you wouldn’t. You swore you wouldn’t. And you did."
The story goes on to cover five years, during which time the male narrator reveals he’s been sleeping around with some 50 other women. Faithful.
The character is Yunior, who’s a bit of a prick. For us, we immediately saw a parallel to the lead character in Luke Rhineheart’s The Dice Man.
Self-absorbed and arrogant. Overly pleased with his lot in life.
So, whether you like The Cheater’s Guide to Love depends entirely on whether you can stand this central character.
Given the story is a slight 56 pages, it’s worth it for a consideration on why some people (men, in this case) do their thing.
Crucially, Yunior doesn’t just go off and think he’s done nothing wrong. He realises he’s lost something special and wants some sort of redemption.
And through the erratic prose, the man attempts to try and piece his life back together.
"In the months that follow you bend to the work, because it feels like hope, like grace—and because you know in your lying cheater's heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get."
We found all this interesting because of the cheater happy world we live in, with websites such as Ashley Madison and Tinder providing men with quick routes to a fling.
Through Yunior, Díaz takes a look at what might drive a man to do this.
And, again, whether you like that depends on your capacity to stomach someone who wantonly went ahead and created his situation.
A Bit About Junot Díaz
Díaz is a writer, creative writing professor at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and fiction editor.
He was born in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, but he grew up in Jersey over in America.
His most famous work is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2008), which won the Pulitzer Prize.
However, we should also add in 2018 some allegations of inappropriate behaviour emerged against the writer. That’s in the aftermath of the #MeToo Movement.
Whilst we can’t comment on the veracity of any of this, he did step down from his role on the Pulitzer board in 2018. But was reinstated in November of that year after a thorough review by the board.
Naturally, those who spoke out against the writer weren’t happy about the result. We’ll leave this here.