The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan is an ode to love – a subtle love letter to love and its nature. That is what the book means to me. Needless to say that the novel is written in the form of a dictionary – a dictionary of love and a relationship surrounding that love.
The idea is simple: How does one talk about love? Is there a way to talk about it? There are so many ways to talk about it. Love, which pulls us out of the ordinary and the mundane life and promises something so much more than what it can give. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. “The Lover’s Dictionary” is a song to those moments of love, almost every shade and colour, every emotion explored through a relationship and its definitions.
Love doesn’t unfold in bullet points. It needs definitions and conversations. It needs sharing and may be some looking back to see where it can go ahead, and if it should. David Levithan’s book is meant to be shared with people so they can be enthralled by its beauty.
The setting of the book is New York City – a relationship unravels through definitions (as mentioned earlier). The definitions in this dictionary are exhilarating and sometimes leave you breathless. Everyone who has ever been in a relationship or may be not also can connect with it. It speaks to all of us – straight, gay, men and women. The language is evocative. The words chosen to try to define love and its complexities are carefully chosen and unique. There is unapologetic romance on every page and that’s the sort of writer that David Levithan is. You can read the book from any page and may be try and make sense of your life in that instant with reference to that definition given. The writing is that powerful.
Sometimes the “dictionary” entries are only as much as a single sentence and yet so fulfilling. There are genuine insights to love and the possibility of it or not. Here are some gems from it: For example, “balk, v. I was the one who said we should live together. And even as I was doing it, I knew this would mean that I would be the one to blame if it all went wrong. Then I consoled myself with this: if it all went wrong, the last thing I’d care about was who was to blame for moving in together.” Or this: “reservation, n. There are times when I worry that I’ve already lost myself. That is, that myself is so inseparable from being with you that if we were to separate, I would no longer be. I save this thought for when I feel the darkest discontent. I never meant to depend so much on someone else.” Or this: love, n. I’m not even going to try.
The book talks of everything love is – first dates, the flirting, the wooing, the living-In, the break-ups and the coming back together to make it work. David Levithan’s writing is beyond superb. He has the capacity to string sentences like no other writer – that is his unique way to do so and that worked for me on all levels. For me, I could read and re-read this book – again and again and cherish it till I do not give enough of it. It is subtle, surreal, magical and takes you to a love – real, funny, heart-breaking and spectacular. You are missing out on something if you haven’t read it yet and I envy you if you would be reading it for the first time because it is so good.